'A memory I wish to hold dear for the rest of my life'


The Testimony of Sr Susan Ward RSJ (Pastoral Associate, St Patrick's Cathedral), delivered at the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta’s Canonisation Celebration for Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop on Sunday 31 October 2010 at St Patrick’s Church, Blacktown.

Achieving holiness and true union with the 'Will of God'

Diocesan Canonisation Celebrations

Sr Susan Ward RSJ (back left) and Sr Marcia Cox RSJ with two successful local entrants in the Mary MacKillop Prayerbook for Children competition at the Diocesan Canonisation celebrations.
Photo: Alphonus Fok & Grace Lu

Next January it will be 50 years since my wish to join the community of the Sisters of St Joseph became a reality. On one sunny Sunday afternoon, I began a life journey.

The future was of course unknown and uncertain. Like all paths in life I have had my ups and downs.

But what has eventuated for me as a member of our congregation is the joy of belonging to an Institute which has endured many 'ups and downs' over a century and a half. The legacy left to us by our founding Sisters and in particular by our foundress, Mary of the Cross, is a treasure that all people associated with our Josephite Community are justly proud about.

Like many other Sisters of our congregation, I have had an opportunity to study and be involved in work connected with the life and work of Mary MacKillop.

These were often experiences which seemed fairly insignificant at the time, but cumulatively have given me a deep and lasting appreciation of our Josephite heritage. Many of Mary’s letters are now available for everyone to read in printed form. It is a wonderful way to depth how her life led her to achieve holiness and true union with the “Will of God”.

I consider myself most blessed to be alive at this time and to have been able to share the holy moments of the Canonisation Liturgy with my Sisters and the whole world. The joy and excitement of our group gathered at our Provincial Centre in Croydon on Sunday night, 17 October 2010, is a memory I wish to hold dear for the rest of my life.

A part of something much larger than our Diocese

Diocesan Canonisation Celebrations
The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, with Josephite Sisters from the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta at the Diocesan celebration of Mary MacKillop's Canonisation.
A large screen had been installed in the Chapel at our Province Centre along with several cameras. This enabled us to link into a direct broadcast from Rome on XT3.com We were able to see the ceremony uninterrupted and hear the commentary given by Fr Mark Podesta (from Sydney) and Sr Giovanni Farquer RSJ.

When Sr Judith Sippel RSJ and Sr Katrina Brill RSJ read the reflection from the writings of Mary of the Cross, we were overjoyed to see them both and the excitement of the Aussies in the crowd was magnetic. It buoyed us into an even rowdier response.

In the absence today of Sr Josephine Mitchell RSJ, who unfortunately is still suffering from a severe cold she developed whilst in Rome, and who was to share a reflection on her experience of the canonisation, I decided to take some extracts from a blog written from Rome.

Shortly before the Sisters were due to leave to come back home they gathered in St Peter’s Square, for the General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

“The Piazza was full, the languages surrounding us many. Flags from around the world flew, cheers went up and we soaked it in,” Sr Sian wrote.

“Australia and NZ are isolated in many ways from the rest of the Church. As the greetings and Pope's words were read in numerous languages this was a reminder that we are part of something much larger than our Diocese or countries, we are part of the Church universal."

“Finally the Pope came in. His gentle, fatherly wave greeted us and the crowd roared. Some Sisters had seats close to the Popemobile path and there were numerous flashes and clicks of cameras, others were up on the stage close to His Holiness and a few of these were later introduced to Benedict XVI.

“It was really special to be amongst the nations of the world and hear the words ‘St Mary of the Cross’. Mary did have to deal with many crosses in her life but today she would be excited to be part of the crowd, not because her name would be called out but because she would be in the presence of both her Sisters and others, praising and giving thanks to God.”

“As part of the ceremonies the names of those groups present were read out. In the English section those present included "the Sisters of St Joseph and pilgrims here for the Canonisation of Mary of the Cross MacKillop". Up we jumped and waved the teal blue scarves with lots of noise as accompaniment. Then the Holy Father acknowledged our presence personally and gave a gentle wave of greeting in the direction of the cheers.”

Back home

The Sisters of St Joseph who went on pilgrimage to Rome to witness the Canonisation of their founder, Saint Mary MacKillop, have returned home filled with fresh determination to roll up their sleeves and respond in Christ’s love to the needs around them.

They are also looking forward to catching up with their Sisters who took part in the Canonisation at home and joining them in the many thanksgiving celebrations being planned around Australia and the world.

Today as I stand here with you, in this parish of St Patrick’s, Blacktown, where I spent almost 10 years of ministry, I am very ‘proud’ of our Australian Church and particularly proud of our very own foundress, Saint Mary of the Cross.

I praise God for raising up one of our own to be a model of holiness for all to imitate.


Saint Mary of the Cross to watch over us

Read Bishop Anthony's Mass of Thanksgiving Homily

Go to Diocesan Canonisation Celebration Photo Gallery

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