Soul mates brought together in the spirit of Mary MacKillop
|Soul mates...Adrian Thompson and Eun Jung Kim.|
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 absolutely no doubt at all she will be there again for the couple as they stand in St Peter’s Square in Rome on 17 October for her Canonisation.
The Westmead Sacred Heart Parishioners, who first met while working at Mary MacKillop Outreach in 2005 and married at the Mary MacKillop chapel in 2008, are being sponsored by the Sisters of St Joseph to accompany an Australian youth contingent to Rome for Mary Mackillop’s Canonisation.
“I just can’t describe the feeling to be going,” said Adrian, who is also the Co-ordinator 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 40-to-50-strong 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 MacKillop 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.”
Sister 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. “The Sisters are hoping that each Diocese will also sponsor a young person from their local community to attend the Canonisation, so that as many young Australians as possible are able to be part of this historic event.”
Mary’s work not done and dusted in the sunburnt country
Adrian said following the Canonisation, the next step in his and Eun Jung’s Josephite journey was 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 Co-ordinator 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.”
'So much can be overcome by sharing'
Adrian said many have come to know JCA through acts as simple as a visit to their home, helping to cook a meal or being part of a weekend away.
“Experiences like these lift the spirits of new arrivals and lonely people who find comfort in the welcome, friendship and hospitality of JCA,” Adrian said.
“Every volunteer who has come here shares a conversation and often sheds a tear over how much they’ve learnt by encountering people who are labelled as ‘poor’ but are so rich in so many ways. You visit a refugee or an asylum seeker with a basket of food - they immediately take one or two items from the basket and share them with you as a sign of welcome; of hospitality.
“Hospitality is sacred to every culture. So much can be overcome by sharing.”
JCA featured in the recent documentary Mary MacKillop: Soul of the Sunburnt Country, whose title was drawn from a testimonial Adrian gave as part of the film.
“Everyone I’ve met who has had their life touched by the Josephites always remembers it,” Adrian said. “It’s what the Josephites do: giving people who didn’t get a decent start in life a second shot at it.
“That’s what Mary and Fr Julian were all about. The ministry they founded was so quintessentially Australian – and they were doing it 40 years before Australia was federated.”
To learn more about the work of JCA, visit http://www.jcaid.com/
Sr Marcia Cox RSJ’s film review of ‘Mary MacKillop: Soul of the Sunburnt Country’
Margaret Farrell walks in Mary's footsteps
Share Your Mary MacKillop Story
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