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Thursday, 13 October 2011 14:15

Living the compassion of St Mary MacKillop

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It seems like yesterday that we were anticipating the great event whether we were in Rome, keeping an eye on St Peter’s to glimpse Mary’s image being hung high in the Square, or whether we were home making last minute arrangements to see the Canonisation broadcast.

In Rome throughout the days preceding the Canonisation there was great excitement as people from all over the world wearing the yellow Mary MacKillop pilgrimage scarves encountered each other and met up with her Sisters distinguished by their teal scarves.

My heart still leaps at the memory of Archbishop Wilson saying for the first time in English during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Thanksgiving Mass, Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. This occurred in a most joyous liturgy in St Pauls Outside the Walls where thousands had gathered to praise God, and where the indigenous peoples of our lands participated so significantly in the offerings made to God in the Eucharist.

My heart delights in the memory of the Vigil in the auditorium on the Via della Conciliazione just down from St Peter’s when Mary MacKillop pilgrims gathered for a celebration of her life in drama and song and to pray together in anticipation of the next day.

Next morning, in the splendour of the Vatican Eucharistic celebration, we awaited the Holy Father’s words. Archbishop Amato accompanied by Sister Maria Casey and the other Postulators asked the Holy Father to canonise the six being presented. We joined the choir in the Litany of the Saints and then in a brief sentence the Pope Benedict XVI declared Mary of the Cross MacKillop, and five others, the newest canonised saints of the Catholic Church.

I imagine the hearts within each of us sang for joy at that moment. God was glorified in the recognition of the holiness of the woman who, as Sister Monica Cavanagh says, was ‘anchored in God’s love’ and who from this place ‘drew the strength to become a source of God’s love in our world.’

Many celebrations of the Canonisation happened all around the world in the weeks and months following 17 October 2010. Many groups and people continue to reflect on the spirituality and the influence of St Mary MacKillop. Many people seek her to pray with them in illness. Many are inspired by her passion for justice for all people and go and do the same.

There is still much suffering in our world. The compassion of Mary MacKillop is still needed and we are the ones today who can be that compassion.

May St Mary of the Cross MacKillop warm the hearts of politicians, decision-makers and all of us to reach out and embrace all people, and especially children, seeking a life where they can live in freedom and peace; where they can be educated and cared for, where their vulnerabilities and disabilities can be given what they deserve and where they can be safe and secure.

When the Church celebrates the saints it does so to ‘proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in his servants and to display to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation’. *

* Sacrosanctum Concilium III, in the Documents of Vatican II

Anne Derwin rsj

CRA National President
Congregational Leader
Sisters of St Joseph