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Mary MacKillop News

Margaret to walk in the footsteps of Mary in Rome

Margaret Farrell
Margaret Farrell.
By Peter Gresser

Aboriginal Catholic Social Services (ACSS) team member Margaret Farrell said she was “excited but humbled” that a Sisters of St Joseph-sponsored trip to Rome for the canonisation will allow her to briefly walk in the footsteps of Australia’s first saint. But it could easily be argued that Margaret has been treading that path for the past 22 years.

Margaret has helped countless people in her work since joining ACSS (part of Centacare Catholic Social Services, Diocese of Parramatta) in 1988.

Thanks to the Sisters of St Joseph's sponsorship, Margaret will attend the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome after spending three days visiting Italian landmarks and churches that marked important turning points in the struggles Mary faced in her life.

“I’m so excited … but also feel very humbled to be going and am so appreciative of the Sisters for inviting me,” said Margaret, who is also a committee member of the Mary MacKillop Foundation.

“There’s so much we can learn from Mary MacKillop’s own plight and from all the work she did with so many people, including Aboriginal people. It’s going to be amazing to be in Rome to walk in her footsteps for a few days.”

Margaret's work with ACCS encompasses prison outreach, scarf workshops, being a coordinator for spirituality weekends and working as part of the OH&S Committee. She also assists ACSS Chaplain Fr Phil Medlin CSsR at Masses, baptisms and other ceremonies.

“For everyone working here at ACSS, it’s all about making people feel welcome, sharing in their yarns and helping them the best way we can,” Margaret said. “This work is its own reward.”

Margaret is also a respected artist in the community, her works reflecting a deep spirituality. There’s little doubt that the memories and experiences of being in Rome for the canonisation will provide special inspiration for her first work post 17 October 2010.

JCA couple to accompany youth contingent 

Adrian Thompson and Eun Jung Kim
Adrian Thompson and Eun Jung Kim married in the Mary MacKillop memorial Chapel.

By Peter Gresser

There’s little doubt that Australia’s first saint was watching over Adrian Thompson and Eun Jung Kim when they first met at Mary MacKillop Outreach in Lewisham and later married at North Sydney’s Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.

And she will be there again for the couple as they stand in St Peter’s Square in Rome on 17 October.

The couple are parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish, Westmead and first met while working at Mary MacKillop Outreach in 2005 and married at the Mary MacKillop chapel in 2008.

They are being sponsored by the Sisters of St Joseph to accompany an Australian youth contingent to Rome for the canonisation.

“I just can’t describe the feeling to be going,” said Adrian, who is also the Coordinator of Josephite Community Aid in Seven Hills. “Mary MacKillop means so much to Eun Jung and myself. Her spirit has been central to our lives.

“Being there on the day of the canonisation, standing next to your soul mate and knowing that you were brought together by being a part of the Josephite journey … it is just going to be an amazing experience for us to share. It’s going to be a part of the celebration of our marriage.”

Adrian and Eun Jung will leave for Rome on 11 October, with a contingent of young Australians being sponsored by the Sisters of St Joseph. The group’s pilgrimage will take it to landmarks and churches visited by Mary, which marked important turning points in the struggles she faced in her life.

“There’s going to be around 8,000 Australians in Rome, which is staggering in itself. But this is a celebration for the whole nation, for all faiths and all walks of life in this country,” Adrian said.

“It’s so important that we acknowledge the Australianness of Mary MacKillop at this time, but in travelling to Rome and walking in her footsteps in the days leading up to the canonisation, we acknowledge that this is a celebration for the entire Church.”

Sr Mary Mercy RSJ said that in keeping with Mary’s commitment to giving young people educational opportunities and through the generosity of the religious congregation, the Sisters of St Joseph were pleased to be sponsoring a strong contingent of young people to attend the canonisation.

“Mary MacKillop was passionate about education – she worked hard to make sure that education was freely available to all,” Sr Mary said.

Adrian said the next step in his and Eun Jung’s Josephite journey would be to bring their Rome experience home to share in their work with Josephite Community Aid (JCA), a Josephite community of young volunteers committed to walking with people who are poor and underprivileged.

“Mary’s journey isn’t done and dusted with the canonisation. There’s still a job to be done,” Adrian said. “Sharing is at the very foundation of the Josephites. Mary and Fr Julian Tenison Woods relied on each other throughout their trials and tribulations. The miraculous challenge for all of us in Josephite ministries is to keep that spirit alive and well.”

Adrian first came to JCA as a volunteer in 1993 and has been coordinator of the ministry since 2007. JCA is made up of people living together in community, with some volunteers in mission full-time, while others have full-time jobs elsewhere and are in mission on a part-time basis. Other volunteers live in their own homes but also take part in the work of JCA.

“All of the community members, regardless of where they live, support each other with prayer and friendship,” Adrian said. “Community members are spread geographically, but live together in the spirit that is JCA.

“The thing I love about the small part I play here is that we are a true Josephite community, living for and with each other. ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’: When you put Mary’s maxim into practice, it stays with you for the rest of your life.”

JCA volunteers work in the community with people who live in poverty and need or are powerless, including refugees, people living with mental illness, or who are suffering distress or loneliness.

“There are no particular ‘groups’ who we help,” Adrian said. “We do what we can, responding to where we believe God is calling us. Each person finds people who are in need where she or he lives and works.”

Canonisation News

Find Mary, discover yourself

A national Mary MacKillop video competition has been launched to help young people engage with the reality of the canonisation of Australia's first saint and discover the significance of Mary’s life for them in a modern context. After submitting entries of no longer than three minutes on the Catholic social networking site (which will be hosting the competition), entrants and the public will be able to vote for their favourite video. The top 10 videos will then go to an expert judging panel to determine the winner. The competition closes on 20 September.


MACKILLOP the musical

Australia’s newest stage musical, MACKILLOP, powerfully portrays the story of the life and work of Mary MacKillop. The production is being staged by the Sydney-based production company Artes Christi and the show will form part of the celebrations marking the canonisation. One hundred per cent of profits from MACKILLOP will go to the Mary MacKillop Canonisation Appeal, ensuring the production will have an enduring impact with those on the margins of society. MACKILLOP will play at The Seymour Centre from 1-9 October.


New exhibition

The inspirational work of the Sisters of St Joseph at the end of the 19th Century is being celebrated in a poignant exhibition, Reaching the People: Mary MacKillop in Sydney Cove, which focuses on Mary's work between 1881 and 1901. Museum curator Edwina Huntley said the exhibition highlighted the establishment of the Sisters of St Joseph in Sydney and their collaboration with the Marist Fathers in helping the poor. The domestic and religious artifacts reveal an intimate story of people of The Rocks from 1851. Recreated rooms of a typical family home show aspects of daily life from the 1880s to the early 1900s. Children can also take a journey to bygone days, through an interactive website. The exhibition is open seven days a week, 10am-4pm till September 26.


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