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Our Care of the Poorest and Most Neglected

July 18, 2017

An enduring memory I carry is of a young Mary MacKillop going out in the dark to help those in need:


"There are two blacks very ill – old Kitty and Wellington. Miss Cunningham and I started for their camp last night after the Stations, but their lights were out so we could not find them.  We only heard of their being ill and went to see them the night before.  I saw them this morning, but could not get Wellington to speak…." 13 April 1867 in a letter to Father Woods

We are called by our Chapter to be women of healing and hope. Mary’s way of doing this was always in practical service of the needy of her world. Her sisters and brothers did the same. 

Donald spent ten years trying to gain justice for the people of the Daly River area, learning their language, eating their food and honouring the people he served. 

Uncle Peter MacKillop nursed Maggie and Peter, even carrying Peter from room to room when he was unable to walk.

Lexie took particular care of the disadvantaged young women in the care of the Good Shepherd Sisters. 

The journeys across the ocean from Scotland by Flora and Alexander brought blessings of love, compassion and kindness on their children. They taught their children to care, to be mindful of others and to help where possible.

We don’t need to give large donations to worthy causes, or undertake marathons, but, as Josephite women, we do need to open our eyes to the neglected in our midst, even when they are demanding, aggressive or selfish. Sometimes the poorest and most needy are right beside us, calling out for help in ways we may not have noticed.

In 1868 Father Woods wrote to Flora of her son, John: 


He did not wish to live except for others.  

John MacKillop found many ways to help those in more need than himself.

In 2 Kings 6:4-11 there is a story of a Shunammite woman who gave hospitality to the prophet Elisha.  She suggested to her husband:


Let’s build a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him.  Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us

It is inspiring for each of us to relish here the super abundance of generosity, of gracious hospitality and personal care, not done out of duty, but from a loving heart. 

In serving the most neglected, we can do no better than recall our Constitutions Ch. 2:3 The Call to Mission:


We serve in a variety of ministries: of being and presence, of suffering and healing, of educating and caring. Through these ministries we continue to experience and reveal God’s loving kindness.

Let us, as Josephite women, do just that, hospitably and joyfully.

Judith Geddes rsj