Celebrating St Mary MacKillop
Feast of St Mary MacKillop in the Year of St Joseph
It is not often that 8 August occurs on a Sunday, but this the solemnity of the feast of our first Australian saint and our co-founder St Mary of the Cross MacKillop does occur on Sunday. It is unfortunate that COVID restrictions will prevent most Australians from gathering in our churches this year, the Year of St Joseph.
We remember the great devotion that Mary had for St Joseph. As Father Paul Gardiner SJ put it, “She never tired of telling her Sisters of his hidden virtues of humility, poverty and obedience. ... St Joseph’s day each year was an occasion for a special reminder from the foundress that the true spirit of the Rule was to be found in charity and humility”.
We recall also the words of Pope John Paul II when he celebrated the beatification of Mary MacKillop in Sydney in 1995:
It is significant that Mother Mary MacKillop gave to her Congregation the name of Saint Joseph, one who committed his whole being and life to God’s loving Providence. Only in this way was he able to live out the unique calling he had received from God, to become the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the guardian of God’s own Son. In the history of the Church Saint Joseph has always been a special model of holiness. Without a doubt, in giving Saint Joseph’s name to her Congregation, Blessed Mary MacKillop was expressing a quality of her own spiritual life, a quality which then became a charism for her followers and for those of us today who would learn from her example.
... Mother Mary of the Cross knew that behind the ignorance, misery and suffering which she encountered there were people, men and women, young and old, yearning for God and his righteousness. She knew, because she was a true child of her time and place: the daughter of immigrants who had to struggle at all times to build a life for themselves in their new surroundings. Her story reminds us of the need to welcome people, to reach out to the lonely, the bereft, the disadvantaged. To strive for the kingdom of God and his righteousness means to strive to see Christ in the stranger, to meet him in them and to help them to meet him in each one of us!
Mary encouraged the Sisters, “In every difficulty ... apply to [St Joseph] with confidence and you will never be disappointed.” We pray especially through her intercession and that of St Joseph for those in special need at this troubled COVID time in our country's history.