‘One of Australia’s True Heroes’: Blessed Mary MacKillop

mary_mackillop_2Tomorrow is the feast of Blessed Mary MacKillop, and the 100th anniversary of her death.  She became better known to Catholics around the world last year, when Pope Benedict XVI made a visit to her tomb during the World Youth Day events held in Sydney and commented publicly about how impressed he is by her story.  But she was already a hero to many, many  Australians, both inside and out of the Church Church:

“In the vastness of the Australian continent, Blessed Mary MacKillop was not daunted by the great desert, the immense expanses of the outback, nor by the spiritual ‘wilderness’ which affected so many of her fellow citizens. Rather she boldly prepared the way of the Lord in the most trying situations,” the pontiff said.

“With gentleness, courage and compassion, she was a herald of the Good News among the isolated ‘battlers’ and the urban slum-dwellers. 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.”

Thousands are expected in North Sydney at Mary MacKillop Place, a spiritual, cultural and hospitality center at whose chapel the tomb of the holy woman is located. Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, will concelebrate a Mass at St. Mary’s Church to mark the feast day.

Sr. Brigette Sipa, Director of the Mary MacKillop Center, said it was unlikely that Pope Benedict XVI would announce Mary’s canonization on her feast day, a news report from the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn says. However, she added that the day was still significant and an opportunity “to remember and pay respects to one of Australia’s true heroes.”  (source)

More recently, there has been a bit of a dust-up over some comments that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made leading up to his visit to the Vatican last month.  He said he wanted to encourage the Pope to canonize MacKillop, which led many to gnash their teeth about mixing Church and State.  Seemed silly to me.  It seems rather obvious that, as an Australian politician, Rudd recognizes that a new Australian saint could result in a good shot in the arm for his nation’s economy — or even simpler, the guy just wanted something to talk about with the Pope. 

I’m sure Mary is comfortable with the controversy still swirling around her.  She knew a good bit of it in her own day. 

Blessed Mary MacKillop, pray for us!


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