Friday 5 August 2011
Following the death of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in 1909, The Advocate featured obituary notices in the 14 August and 21 August issues. The following is an edited article that also appeared in 21 August issue, paying tribute to "a remarkable woman" and the congregation she founded, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
The story of her work, during 43 years of her life, reads like a biography of some founder of a religious congregation in the Middle Ages. Yet she was born amongst ourselves, in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy; commenced her work in South Australia, and lived to see the congregation which she founded spread over the continent of Australia and the Dominion of New Zealand.
… The congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph seems to have been marked by St Joseph and the Sacred Heart for their own from the beginning. The congregation was born in a stable: St Joseph provided a stable where the Sacred Heart first beat!
Melbourne has a peculiar claim on the really great woman who has died in Sydney. Her father, a Catholic Highlander from Scotland, assisted at the first Mass celebrated in this city, and Mother Mary of the Cross was baptised in St Francis’ Church, Lonsdale Street – the first Catholic place of worship built in Melbourne and Victoria.
Mother Mary has the distinction of being the first Australian to found a religious order or congregation. The order which began in the stable at Penola in 1866, with three or four sisters, now has 106 houses and 750 nuns. …
It seems more than accident that the last communion of Mother Mary of the Cross should have been administered by one of her own boy-pupils of years ago, who is now a missionary of the Sacred Heart, to which the foundress of the Order of St Joseph consecrated her congregation.
During her not very long life, Sister Mary of the Cross had to suffer many trials of a personal and religious character. Many of us remember that in the (18)70s the order was almost extinguished, but the sisters trusted in the goodness of their cause, and triumphed over all opposition, which was of a powerful description …
The Sisters of St Joseph seem to have been sent into the Australian Church by heaven specially to meet a trying crisis. They came when the fatal error of excluding religious teaching from public schools of Australia was about to be committed. They were already present on Australian soil – they had not to be brought hither at great expense from other countries. They were as humble and self-denying as they were devoted to duty and fearless of suffering and difficulty. Wherever they were called they went, and they asked for themselves little more than a shelter and food and raiment!
… every (Josephite) house has had the personal supervision and direction of the wonderful woman whom God raised up for the succour and training every year of thousands of his little ones at a time of peril. The Australian Aboriginal and the Maori child share the sisters’ care and devotion with the little ones of Irish parents from Cork and Donegal. Who shall take the place of this strong and courageous woman who, in her day, did so much for the young Church of Australia and whose work must have been blessed by God, St Joseph and St Patrick!
Kairos Catholic Journal Volume 22, Issue 14
St Mary MacKillop feast day 8 August
St Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first native saint, will be celebrated with a solemnity.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments approved a request from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference that the liturgical observance of St Mary MacKillop be raised from a ‘feast’ to a ‘solemnity’.
Thus, in Australia the Mass of that day will include a first and second reading, the Gloria and the Creed. Zenit