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Thursday, 04 August 2011 02:56

Celebrating a saintly legacy

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The solemn ritual in St Peter's Square received a resoundingly positive critique by a variety of journalists and media outlets. It may have surprised some of us that a secular society such as Australia, could own such a profoundly religious story as an important part of its history and culture.

Even the most cursory examination of the humble beginnings of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, is enough for any Australian to know it is part of our narrative as a nation. The ongoing story of the courageous and talented women who have committed their lives to God in the footsteps of Mary MacKillop is something that we, as women and men Religious, can own and understand as people living an age-old tradition in new and challenging ways.

Through her own admission, Mary MacKillop had a difficult childhood. From an early age she nurtured a strong and enduring relationship with God.  As a young woman, her human instincts led her to trust a relationship with Father Julian Tenison Woods, who she met while working in Penola, South Australia. The strong bond between Tenison Woods and Mary was a gift which led them to establishing the 'Brown Josephite' Sisters.

Mary was a natural teacher with a deep compassion for the poor.  She was a truly relational woman who loved her Sisters. She was a fighter for justice and a lover of the Church. She was a woman who trusted deeply that God was present and active in her relationships and in other parts of her life.

Australian Religious relate strongly to these and many other aspects of the life and vocation of Mary MacKillop. She was a woman of her time and a woman ahead of her time. With all Australians, we are encouraged by her story and honour her legacy in the women who followed her.

Father Tim Norton SVD
Acting CRA President