Born, raised and still as Catholics, I know first hand about the Catholic culture related to their holy saint and the devotion: they don’t take it lightly. For a humble nun from Australia who once excommunicated by the church itself to be recognized as one of the church’s idol, that is a massive achievement.
On 20 February 2010, Pope Benedict XVI announced that Mary MacKillop will be canonized in a ceremony at the Vatican on October 17 and she will be known as St Mary of the Cross.
So, this is my dedication to fellow Australian who does extraordinary things for fellow human regardless of their status. Hope the highest recognition from Catholic Church – a sainthood for Mother Mary MacKillop – could at least inspires us to do good deeds for those who less fortunate than us.
How One Become a Saint: Canonization Process
Catholic Church’s Canonization process to name someone a “saint” is incredibly long process and usually takes a century (100 years) or more. The church is not “making” someone a saint but recognize the saint. The process is basically have to overcome 3 main hurdles:
- Being recommended by local bishop to a panel of cardinal Congregation for Cause of Saints in Vatican which then agreed that the person is a role model of Catholic teaching. The Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran was the first to inspire a sainthood path for Mary MacKillop on her deathbed. But his successor Cardinal Michael Kelly is the one starting the official effort to make Mary a saint.
- Beatification: the nominated person have to be proven to be responsible of one miracle. The miracles have to be something that cannot be explained by neither science, medicine or logic, so implied a divine power. This will be investigated and confirmed by Vatican.
The late Pope John Paul II has beatified Blessed (Mother) Mary MacKillop on 19 January 1995 for healing a woman with deadly leukaemia in 1961.
- Canonization: the nominated person have to be proven to be responsible of 2nd miracle, after he/she died.Investigated and confirmed by Vatican. (very very tough criteria!)
Pope Benedict XVI agreed with doctors and theologians’ findings that the cure of a woman suffering inoperable lung cancer in 1993 was indeed a miracle, hence, fulfilling her sainthood requirement. The woman was given only weeks to live as her lung cancer was proven to be untreatable. She carried a small picture of the Blessed (Mother) Mary, with a piece of the nun’s habit attached to it, pinned to her clothes day and night. Ten months after her diagnosis, the woman, then 50, was tested again and no cancer was found. Doctors could find no scientific explanation for her recovery .
The Congregation of the Causes of Saints issued a papal decree on 19 December 2009 that the Catholic Churs is officially recognizing the second miracle as legitimate and beyond human intervention – making Mary MacKillop the first Australian Saint.
Although no longer necessary, at least one other miracle of British backpacker David Keohane who recover after being bashed and coma for 8 months was noted. The family and friends of David prayed constantly through the intercession of Mary MacKillop and given the miracle.
About Saint Mary MacKillop
- She was born in Melbourne on 15th January 1842, the eldest of 8 children.
- At age of 16, she started helping at her local parish to teach young children
- At age of 24, she open the first Saint Joseph school on an unused stable. Many young woman then join Mary and so the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart was started. It was in the year of 1866.
- A year later, in 1867, Bishop Sheil ask her to come to Adelaide to start another school. From there, the Sisters spread around Australia and the world. She also opened Orphanages, Providences to care for the homeless and destitute both young and old, and Refuges for ex-prisoners and ex-prostitutes who wished to make a fresh start in life
- Excommunicated from the Church at one stage for allegedly disobeying authorities.
Before long there were 17 schools under her care, and the church leaders were bothered by her power.
In 22nd September 1871, Mary and many other sisters from St Joseph was wrongly excommunicated (expelled from church) by Bishop Sheil, who wanted to have more control of St Josephs Sisters. After five months, when Bishop Sheil lay dying, he realised his mistake and revoked the excommunication. Despite her ordeal, she never once publicly blamed the church leaders for their actions
- Mary MacKillop died in North Sydney at 67 years old on 8th August 1909 because of ill health.
Many things that seemed unaccountable worries have proved indeed to be hidden blessings – Mary MacKillop – 1870
Small Happening By Prime Minister
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has a little bit incident for supporting Saint Mary MacKillop. Raised as Catholic but currently practicing Anglican, Mr Rudd paid a visit to MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney as soon as the canonization committee indicates that the 2nd miracle of Mother Mary MacKillop is about to be confirmed. No less than opposition leader, a devoted Catholic, Tony Abbot slammed the PM of “exploiting for political gain” of the possible canonisation.
His gesture of respect even tickle Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth to comment “The Prime Minister affects a certain fluidity which perhaps church leaders wouldn’t like to see.” This comment irritates Bishop Michael Putney, chair of the Catholic Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations which replied that it was not really appropriate for a clergy to comment in the press on the religious practice of anyone. “Mr Rudd, like everyone else, should be left alone as he works out his relationship with the Catholic Church”. So a bit of unrest on both churches.
PM Rudd has been known as long time supporter of Mary MacKillop, so does Tony Abbot. He also discussed the matter with Pope Benedict during his visit to Rome July 2009. He insisted all Australians “whether they are Catholic or not, whether they are religious or not” should have a high regard for MacKillop and her achievements.
Getting To Know Further The First Australian Saint
To get to know the Blessed Mother further, you may consider to purchase a book by Paul Gardiner titled “Mary MacKillop: An Extraordinary Australian” – the official biography.
To purchase from Amazon, just click the link on the left. Otherwise you may choose other interesting item covering the first Australian Saint as shown on the right above.
Canonisation ceremony: Rome, 17 October 2010
Musical tribute planned: Voice of Saint
God bless !
Gratitude is the memory of the heart – Mary MacKillop – 1907
Reference: many sources on the net.