Saint Mary of the Cross to watch over us


Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonisation of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop
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. Photo: Alphonus Fok & Grace Lu

By Virginia Knight

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP will petition Rome for permission to dedicate the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta to the patronage of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

The Bishop of Parramatta made the announcement to a delighted congregation who had gathered in St Patrick’s Church in Blacktown for the Diocese of Parramatta’s Canonisation celebrations on 31 October 2010.

In the front pews were the Sisters of St Joseph, still brimming with excitement and jubilation following the Canonisation of their founder in Rome on 17 October.

Sharing in the blessed, historic moment of our first Saint

St Mary of the Cross Celebrations
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu.
The Canonisation celebrations commenced with music, dance and testimony by young Catholics from the Diocese of Parramatta.

Music and dance was provided by Captivate, the creative and performing arts initiative for primary and secondary Catholic schools in the Diocese.

In the Captivate Choir were students from five Catholic schools: Catherine McAuley Westmead; St Paul’s College, Greystanes; Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown; Nagle College, Blacktown South; and St Joseph’s College, Kingswood.

Special guests included Laura Wonson, a Year 6 student from St Nicholas of Myra Primary in Penrith who journeyed to Rome for the canonisation and shared her experience of being in St Peter's Square for the historic event.

Sr Susan Ward RSJ, the Pastoral Associate at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta, shared the joy that has filled the Sisters of St Joseph with the Canonisation of their founder.

Bishop Anthony was the principal celebrant at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonisation of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, which was concelebrated by the Vicar General, Rev Robert McGuckin, St Patrick’s Parish Priest, Rev Peter Confeggi, and priests of the Diocese. Music in the Mass featured hymns written by Australian composers specifically for Mary MacKillop.

Mary MacKillop Prayerbook for Children

Annie Taverner
Prayer in print...Annie Taverner.
Joining in the local celebrations was a group of young authors, whose prayers to Australia’s first recognised saint have been published in The Mary MacKillop Prayerbook for Children.

In 2009, the Sisters of St Joseph organised a competition aimed at celebrating the Canonisation in a way that would reach to the heart of Mary’s ministry, a remembrance gift from the children. The brief was simple: to compose a prayer based on the strong qualities and inspiration of Mary MacKillop.

The Mary MacKillop Prayerbook for Children is full of devotional prayers written by children. They demonstrate a deep sense of faith and understanding of her life; her belief in God, her strength in the face of challenges and her great ability to forgive.

From the wealth of entries received, only 80 were selected for publication and 10 of the successful submissions came from students attending schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.

One of the successful entrants, Annie Taverner (now aged 7), was in Kindergarten at Our Lady of Lourdes at Seven Hills when she entered the competition.

“I like praying to Mary as I feel she understands me, because like me, she is Australian,” Annie said. She added that Mary is special because she helped the poor with their needs. Annie’s parents, Margaret and Ray Taverner, said they were proud that Annie had achieved an original publication at such a young age.

Entries from five students at Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys, were included in the prayerbook. School Principal Mark Geerligs said the children’s prayers were a testament to the school’s focus on Mary, who visited the school in the late 1800s.

“We plan to use the children’s prayers in association with celebrations for Mary MacKillop in the future,” Mark said. 

The school commemorated the occasion with a surprise celebration for the young authors, whose achievements were acknowledged.

“They were very excited as they were each presented with a copy of the book,” Mark said.

Another of the contributors, Jaida Walker (now at Cerdon College), was in Year 6 at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes, when her entry was submitted.

“Mary MacKillop is special because of her courage and strength,” Jaida said.

“When questions arose about her and the Sisters of Saint Joseph, she found strength in God and fought for what she believed in. She was always willing and eager to help people in need, no matter who they were or where they came from. We should pray to Mary so we can model our actions on her and become better people.”

Tamara Neil (now at Strathfield Girls’ High) was also in Year 6 at Our Lady Queen of Peace last year. She said she was elated that she could contribute a prayer of thanks, in remembrance of Mary’s canonisation.

“I pray to Mary MacKillop because she loved God unconditionally and she is an excellent role model to children. Mary teaches us to push our personal boundaries and fight for the betterment of mankind,” Tamara said.

Tamara feels that in dedicating her life’s work to God and working tirelessly to improve the lives of children, Mary was able to make Australia a better place.

Tamara’s parents, Craig and Carmen Neil, said that Tamara has a very deep faith in God and looks up to Mary MacKillop.

“She would like to walk in her footsteps and one day contribute something equally special to mankind,” the Neils said.

The students whose prayers were published are: Annie Taverner (6) – Our Lady of Lourdes, Seven Hills; Madison Hopkinson (7) – Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys; Molly Mitchell (7) – Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys; Jessica Miller (9) – Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys; Alexandra Seck (10) – Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys; Vanessa Magri (11) – Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys; Alexis Nader (11) – Holy Trinity, Granville; Tamara Neil (11) – Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes; Jaida Walker (11) – Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes; and George Georges (12) - Holy Trinity, Granville.

The Mary MacKillop Prayerbook for Children: RRP $19.95. Available from: Pauline Books & Media, 150 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, or order online at:


Read Bishop Anthony's Mass of Thanksgiving Homily

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

Go to Diocesan Canonisation Celebration Photo Gallery

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