On May 6, 2009, a declaration was received from Pope Benedict XVI assenting to Archbishop John Bathersby’s petition that Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop* be made the patron of the Brisbane Archdiocese.
Such a declaration was both appropriate and enthusiastically received as the Archdiocese has its own historic connections to this remarkable woman, including the formation of four of her order’s very first schools in Queensland.
In December, 1869, Mary MacKillop and five of the Sisters of St Joseph came to Brisbane and rented a house in South Brisbane.
During 1870, they opened three schools for the poorer children in Brisbane and one in Maryborough.
Mary and her companions attended Mass at St Stephen’s Church in Elizabeth Street and often prayed there before the Blessed Sacrament.
Born in Melbourne in 1842 and fired by a deep desire to serve God and help alleviate the plight of the poor, Mary was an ordinary person who lived a holy life.
Her motto of ‘never see a need without doing something about it’ continues to call us forth to action.
At a time when real heroes are in short supply, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop is a true inspiration.
Her heroism is all the more firm because it is built not on celebrity or sporting skill but on her love for Jesus Christ and a life of dedication to God and her fellow human beings.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, Sr Moya Campbell rsj, the Sisters of St Joseph Provincial leader, said the order were especially delighted to see their founder made patron in the year of the archdiocese’s 150th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of their founder’s death (2009).
Sr Campbell said the honour was truly a recognition of the greatness of this woman and her enduring contribution to the early life of Australia.
“She’s an inspirational woman … Among her many qualities was her ability to inspire hope in those she met,” she said.
“Such hope is a very important quality to seek out in today’s world.”
Mass celebrating the Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, August 2012
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop’s Feast day is formally celebrated with a Mass in the Cathedral on August 8.
Her connection to Brisbane, both through the time she spent resident here and in establishing a number of local schools, was the driver behind her being named as the Archdiocesan Patron in 2009.
Her commitment to helping poor and marginalised children attend Catholic schools is the reason for her ongoing popularity with people all across the Archdiocese and the state.