Declared and defined: St Mary of the Cross MacKillop


Canonisation Ceremony 17 October 2010
Blessed day...the Canonisation Ceremony in St Peter's Square Rome.
Photo: ESP (Photographer: Danilo Schiavella)

By Peter Gresser

One hundred and sixty-eight years after her birth, 101 years following her passing and 85 years since the Sisters of St Joseph began the Cause for her Canonisation, the moment millions have prayed for came at 7.42pm Sunday 17 October 2010: Blessed Mary MacKillop was declared and defined a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI - St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

More than 50,000 gathered in St Peter’s Square, Rome – including around 50 Catholic Diocese of Parramatta pilgrims among the 8,000-10,000-strong Australian pilgrim contingent – and millions across the country celebrated the Canonisation of Australia’s first Saint - a Saint for all Australians...and an Australian Saint for all.

'May we walk humbly through the hard times'

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop - a Saint for all Australians...and an Australian Saint for all.
Prior to the The Rite of Canonisation, the ceremony began with a reading for Mary and each of the other five Blesseds Canonised by Pope Benedict XVI during the Mass - Stanislaw Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Giulia Salzano and Battista da Varano.

Excerpts of Mary's letters were quoted during her reading, which concluded:

"God of all blessings, you revealed in Mary MacKillop a woman sensitive to the rights and dignity of every person, regardless of gender, race or creed. Help us to value each person. Help us to respect different cultures, faiths and people. May we learn from Mary MacKillop to overcome prejudice and fear. May we walk humbly through the hard times. May we care for all creation and remain confident that You care for us. With her, may we let Your glory absolve our faults, deliberations and actions. Hear us Oh Holy One, Three in One."

Then the moment – Blessed Mary was written in the Book of Saints with the Holy Father's declaration:

"We inscribe them (the Blesseds) in the Book of Saints and state that throughout the Church they will be devoutly honoured as Saints. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

"In honour of the most holy Trinity, in exultation of the Catholic faith and the development of our Christian life, with the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Apostles Peter and Paul and after long reflection, invoking Divine help and listening to many of our brothers in the Episcopato, we declare and define (as) Saints the Blessed Stanlisaw Kazimiercyk, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista da Varano."

A Saint for all Australians…and an Australian Saint for all

In Rome for the ceremony, Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony OP, said that "a woman of God and deep faith, of courage and perseverance, of compassion and action, has at last been recognised."

"She knew that to build a new country and to lift people out of poverty, the key was education. And she made that happen for tens of thousands of people," Bishop Anthony said. "No longer is she just Australian property. Today her praises were sung in many languages. Her picture shines on the facade of St Peter’s.

"Of course we celebrated her in the city and the bush of Australia as well: we have a special connection with her in such places. But hers is now an international stage. She now transcends time and place."

(Read more of Bishop Anthony on the Canonisation in his 17 October Rome Blog).

Precious gift: Westmead Parishioner in Canonisation Offertory Procession

Westmead Sacred Heart Parishioner and Youth Pilgrimage Leader Adrian Thompson shared in an unsurpassable moment at the Rome ceremony - being a part of the Offertory Procession at the Canonisation Mass, presenting in the gifts of bread and wine to His Holiness before placing them on the altar.

It was only fitting that Adrian – for whom Mary MacKillop has played such a central role in his and wife Eun Jung's life – played a role in her Canonisation ceremony.

The Co-ordinator of Josephite Community Aid in Seven Hills and the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta's youth representative sponsored by the Sisters of St Joseph to attend the Canonisation, Adrian spoke to ABC News 24 earlier in the day while rehearsing for the ceremony. To calm his nerves, Adrian tightly clutched a Mary MacKillop ‘Holding Cross’.

“I’ve given the cross to people here in Rome during week, when they’ve needed Mary’s assistance – and I need it now more than ever,” Adrian said in his pre-ceremony interview.

“Mary’s here with me, and Eun Jung is here with me, so I’m pretty happy. Two fantastic women.”

Adrian told ABC News 24 that he believed all Australians – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – could share in a ‘sense of unity’ through Mary MacKillop’s Canonisation.

“Mary in her religious life and Josephite life very quickly realised that Australia was a big place and that they (the Josephites) needed freedom of movement. That unites us all, as she did with the Sisters, crossing colonial boundaries, going where no-one else would go, being present to the poor in situations where other people wouldn’t be," Adrian said.

“Today is a uniting point for Australia.”


Flying start: pilgrims make headlines on path to Rome

Soul mates brought together in the spirit of Mary MacKillop

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