Feast Day of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop


​​​YESTERDAY we celebrated a significant feast day in our calendar for the Church, and particularly for Catholic education across Australia.  

August 8th marks the Feast Day of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop – our first Australian saint and patron saint of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Each year, we gather at the Cathedral of St Stephen to celebrate and mark this important occasion. 

The Cathedral is usually 'packed to the rafters' with students, staff, parents, grandparents and many people from across the Archdiocese to honour Mary and the difference she made. 

Student choirs lift the roof of the Cathedral, and the joy and gratitude that marks the special feast day is palpable. It is a great celebration of this remarkable woman and her incredible legacy.

This year, with Brisbane and surrounding areas in lockdown, five of us gathered in the cathedral for the mass, which was also livestreamed. 

Archbishop Mark celebrated the mass, Annika from the cathedral choir sang, and Dominic played the organ. Alan was the altar server and Adrian was downstairs controlling the livestream.

I was the sole member of the congregation, and my contribution was to proclaim the readings and lead the prayers of intercession. My sincere thanks for Annika, Dominic, Alan and Adrian for their support.

We had planned for the Mary MacKillop College, Nundah, choir to lead the singing, and students from Our Lady's College, Annerley, and St Dympna's School, Aspley, were ready to read. 

My thanks to Bree Gillies and the students at Mary MacKillop College who put so much time into rehearsing the hymns for the mass, and to the students at Our Lady's College and St Dympna's School for their preparation for the acknowledgement of country, the readings, and prayers of intercession. 

My sincere thanks to Bree and the Mary MacKillop choir students and our readers from Our Lady's and St Dympna's.

There is no doubt that COVID continues to test our adaptability and resilience! 

As you well know, Mary MacKillop's adaptability and resilience were frequently put to the test. 

Mary MacKillop first came to Brisbane with her Sisters, just over 150 years ago. During her first visit from 1869 to 1871, 

Mary opened three schools to serve the fledgling Brisbane and Maryborough communities by providing a Catholic education for the children of early settlers.  

Mary showed compassion to those most in need, always eager to discover God's will in all things. 

We give thanks for Mary MacKillop and all the Sisters of St Joseph who have served so many communities across our vast land, through their ministry in education and their care and support for those most in need. 

Mary was certainly a woman of action. She trusted in God's providence and “never saw a need without doing something about it".

In this year when we celebrate 200 years of Catholic education in Australia, I acknowledge Mary MacKillop and all the Sisters of St Joseph, along with the women and men from other religious congregations, and all teachers and staff in our Catholic schools for your tireless work, and the work of those in our schools across the past two centuries.

In the words of Mary MacKillop – “Let us be joyful and thank God."

We acknowledge with grateful hearts the work of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph, for their courage, faith, and commitment to Catholic education, and their lasting legacy. 

Through their vocation, these women made a difference in the lives of so many young people, including myself as a past student at Our Lady's College, Annerley. 

What a wonderful gift and inspiration St Mary of the Cross has been to generations of young Australians. As we look to the future, it is my hope that we will continue to honour the legacy of Mary MacKillop as we continue to teach, challenge and transform the lives of the young people in our classrooms each day.

Fr Anthony Mellor shared his 'two-minute homily' for the Feast Day of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. 

It is well worth watching and is available at this link.

While the lockdown has now ended, the restrictions continue. 

Thank you for your continued patience and optimism during these unusual times. I hope you and your family keep safe and well, as the risk of the pandemic continues to impact our lives each day. 

We pray for all those who have been particularly impacted this past week with illness and isolation, especially those in our local schools and their families. 

We also hold the people of Sydney in our prayers, particularly the families of those who have lost loved ones in this current outbreak.

I conclude this message to mark the Feast Day of Mary MacKillop with some words of wisdom from Mary :

“I cannot forget that there is a dear good God watching over us."

May you know the comforting presence of God among us this coming week, and may God abundantly bless each of you.


Pam Betts

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