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Looking back: Melbourne celebrates Mary MacKillop’s canonisation

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Media and Communications Office
 
Today is St Mary of the Cross MacKillop's feast day, and we are looking back on when she was first canonised. This article was published in Kairos, Volume 21 Issue 20, in October 2010. 
 

 
On Sunday 17 October, thousands of Melburnians celebrated Mary MacKillop’s canonisation with a full day of activities in and around the site of her birth in Fitzroy.
 
The day began with 11am Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, celebrated by Bishop Peter Elliott. Bishop Elliott told the more than 3000 people in the Cathedral—twice the official capacity—that Mary MacKillop had left her mark on the city of her birth and formative years, as well as on many parts of Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
 
He said her canonisation was the consequence of her holiness lived in a heroic way. ‘Her holiness rested on a simple, but devastating, spirituality—total trust in God.’
 
Bishop Elliott thanked the Sisters of St Joseph for living the charism of their foundress. He encouraged all to follow Mary MacKillop’s example, forging holiness through their daily lives by seeking to love God and serve others selflessly. ‘Like her, we can live God’s gift of these virtues through a spirituality of trust in God.’
 
 Photos by Casamento Photography.
 
The Mass was followed by the blessing of the site of the St Mary of the Cross Chapel at Australian Catholic University. Associate Vice-Chancellor ACU Melbourne Chris Sheargold welcomed all present at Central Hall.
 
After an acknowledgement of country by Naomi Wolf, plans for the St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Chapel were presented, followed by an address on the connection between St Mary and ACU by Pro-ViceChancellor, Academic, Professor Gabrielle McMullen. A procession to the nearby site of the soon to be constructed chapel, opposite Mary MacKillop’s birthplace in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, followed, where Bishop Elliott blessed the site.
 
At 2pm, the Sisters of St Joseph led a 5000-strong street procession from St Mary MacKillop’s birthplace to the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens. The exuberant crowd, including groups from schools and parishes, smiled and waved as they processed, accompanied by music from pipe bands and entertainers.
 
At the Royal Exhibition Building a welcoming party awaited. It included Professor David de Kretser, Governor of Victoria and Mrs de Kretser; Prime Minister Julia Gillard; Victorian Premier John Brumby; Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs James Merlino; Bishop Les Tomlinson, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne; Bishop Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne; Sr Mary Ryan, First Councillor, Victorian Province Sisters of St Joseph; Aunty Joy Murphy, senior elder of the Wurundjeri People and the Aboriginal Elders of a number of Nations; Ted Bailleau, Leader of the Victorian Liberal Party; Peter Ryan, Leader of the National Party; Councillor Jane Garrett, Mayor of the City of Yarra; Archbishop Philip Freier, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and other ecumenical and interfaith leaders.
 
All present were delighted to hear Mike Brady and the Ashton-Smith Singers sing Mike Brady’s song written specially to honour Mary MacKillop ‘In Mary’s Hands’.
 
From 2.30pm, 5000 people attended performances from schools, dancers, musicians and entertainers in the grounds of and inside the Royal Exhibition Building. Families, religious orders, parishioners and supporters of Mary MacKillop from all around Melbourne made the most of the opportunity to celebrate and to learn more about Mary MacKillop and her legacy through informative displays. Everyone enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere.
 
The Prayer Service which commenced at 6pm inside the Royal Exhibition Building was hosted by ABC broadcast journalist Josephine Cafagna and Tim Davis of the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation. Bishops Tim Costelloe and Les Tomlinson presided. Bishop Costelloe was celebrant. The Prayer Service was attended by 3000 people inside the Royal Exhibition Building and by hundreds of others watching the service on a super screen outside.
 
Bishop Costelloe said Mary MacKillop told her Sisters, ‘remember who you are trying to follow; do not be afraid’. He said it was not what she did, but why she did it that has led to her canonisation.
 
‘She is being canonised tonight because she always remembered who she was trying to follow.’
 
 Photos by Casamento Photography.
 
He said Mary MacKillop had the same mind and heart as Christ and was a bearer of his universal love. Yet, he said, Mary MacKillop’s values were quintessentially Australian. ‘Tonight we claim her as our own, even as she is given to the whole world, the whole Church.’
 
A live telecast of the canonisation followed, displayed on large screens inside and outside the Royal Exhibition Building.
 
Mary MacKillop’s canonisation was a significant historical event not only for Catholics but for all Australians, and Melbourne marked it with the celebration it deserved and that we will long remember.
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