Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones? Why do you give in to resignation and failure? Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness.
Pope Francis, Homily, April 2019

The massacre of the innocent, the ravages of war and the displacement of people engender fear, desperation, and a sense of hopelessness. We also feel the pain of the flood victims left homeless and poverty stricken. Devastation and hardship call upon every ounce of faith and hope we have, to claim and look forward to a brighter future.

Mary MacKillop was no stranger to hardship. She endured the worries of the fledgling order; she managed the embarrassment of the excommunication; she gave superb leadership without, at times, the support of Julian Tenison Woods. Personally, she experienced loss of one kind or another. Her constant travel took its toll on her strength as illness was her close companion.

Mary battled a severe rheumatic condition. She travelled to New Zealand to meet all the sisters who were gathering for retreat. She hoped when there to visit Te Aroah to avail herself of the natural medicinal baths. Time did not allow her this comfort. Mary expressed her disappointment: “My own health had failed very much and I dare say that when the great heat is over I shall be all right again. I had a hard, anxious time of it in New Zealand”. [1]

Mary longed to visit the medicinal baths of Rotorua and visited New Zealand again in 1902. She stayed in Thirwell House with her sister Annie. The treatment was effective, and her malady improved. However, her ability with a pen was difficult. Mary spent Easter in Rotorua with the sisters and later suffered a stroke.

When Mary returned to Australia, her mobility was compromised and eventually she needed to use a typewriter for her prolific correspondence. In spite of this ill health, Mary was re-appointed as Mother General and continued with hope and resilience.


  • How does Mary MacKillop’s hope and faith in times of suffering inspire you?
  • How do you cope when you encounter the inevitable sufferings of daily life?
  • How does Easter 2022 bring you a message of hope?

Pray with Mary.

Michele Shipperley rsj


[1] Gardiner, P., 2007. An Extraordinary Australian: Mary MacKillop. North Sydney, NSW: Trustees of the Sisters of St Joseph.