A Message from Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader, Sisters of Saint Joseph.

Let us rejoice in the gift of Mary MacKillop to our Church and our world as we celebrate her feast day.

Mary MacKillop was described by her early Sisters as a big-hearted woman whose life and mission was centred in the heart of God. She drew from this source to show love and compassion to all she met. Mary listened attentively to the heartbeat of God in her life and in this way became a heartbeat of God in the world. She understood what it meant to be on mission with a humble heart.

Recently Pope Francis used the example of Mary MacKillop in his weekly catechesis series on apostolic zeal in his General Audience on 28 June 2023. He spoke of Mary MacKilllop in these words:

One essential characteristic of her zeal for the gospel was her desire to care for the poor and marginlised. This pushed her to go where others refused or were unable to go. Pope Francis

We give thanks that Mary’s dedication and service speaks to so many.

Throughout her life, Mary supported people, especially the children of the poor to find their voice through the gift of education. She became both a voice for the voiceless and found ways to enable the voiceless to find their voice.

Later this year, Australians will be asked to vote in the Australian Indigenous Voice referendum. As we do, we might look to Mary MacKillop for guidance and wisdom in this important moment in our history.

In 2016, at our Sesquicentenary celebrations in Penola (South Australia), I had the opportunity to meet the descendants of Nancy Bruce, a young Aboriginal girl whom Mary provided with an education. This enabled her to find her voice and to make a difference in her community. As the First Nations Peoples of our country seek recognition and voice, let us be inspired by the wisdom of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and the open heartedness of Saint Mary MacKillop. You might like to join the National Catholic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Catholic Council over the coming weeks in prayer and reflection – One Journey Together here.

This year we are also mindful of the people from across the world coming together for the Synod on Synodality in Rome. Saint Mary MacKillop was a woman of the Church. Mary took the Church in her heart to places across this nation. It was her desire to establish a heart-centred church amidst God’s people. She experienced the Spirit moving in her life as she listened to the whisperings of God to her heart. May her witness, companion all those gathering for this historic moment for the people of God. May they lean into the heart of God and be attentive to the yearning of the Spirit as they come together in deep listening and reflection and respond to God’s call to be the voice of mission in the world today.

Be a heartbeat of God, as was Mary MacKillop, wherever you find yourself. Celebrate the gift of her life.

Sr Monica Cavanagh
Congregational Leader