By Anthony Barich
Benedict XVI says Blessed Mary MacKillop is one of the most "outstanding figures" in Australian history.
Pope affirmed this on July 17 during an official
welcome ceremony at Sydney’s Government House. Later in the day, the
Holy Father went to pray at Blessed Mary’s shrine in north Sydney.
Pontiff praying at the Australian’s shrine — just hours before being
officially welcomed by over 150,000 young people already in Sydney for
World Youth Day — underlined the universal devotion to Blessed Mary
MacKillop, a key for canonization.
Mary MacKillop, born in
Victoria in 1842, founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred
Heart, which established schools and charitable organizations across
Australia and was devoted to the care of orphans, neglected children,
the homeless, sick and elderly.
Benedict XVI said he knows that Mary
MacKillop’s "perseverance in the face of adversity, her plea for
justice on behalf of those unfairly treated and her practical example
of holiness have become a source of inspiration for all Australians."
have reason to be grateful to her and to the Sisters of St. Joseph of
the Sacred Heart and other religious congregations for the network of
schools that they established here and for the witness of their
consecrated life," he added.
The Sisters of St Joseph’s
spokesperson, Sister Monica Cavanagh, said the Pope’s visit was
significant in following his predecessor’s steps in recognizing the
role of Blessed Mary MacKillop. Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed
Mary in 1995.
Sister Monica thanked the Holy Father for his
support, adding that the women religious were pleased to receive the
visit of the Bishop of Rome at their sanctuary.
If she is canonised, Blessed Mary will be the first Australian saint.