“HEROIC” was one of the many ways St Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) was described 102 years after her death when worshippers packed St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, on her first solemnity on Monday, August 8.
Canonised in Rome on October 17 last year, Australia’s first saint and patron of Brisbane archdiocese drew children, young people and adults into churches nationwide.
Bishop Brian Finnigan, Auxiliary for Brisbane, presided at the “standing room only” 10am Mass in St Stephen’s Cathedral, saying her canonisation was “a time of extreme joy and happiness … with exuberance also in Australia”.
He spoke of St Mary’s constant “hope, hospitality and vision” in forming the Sisters of St Joseph with Fr Julian Tenison Woods in 1867 and providing education where it was lacking.
“She (St Mary) was a person who exhibited profound faith in God … who had a strong vision to do something for young people in isolated areas … (with) deep respect and love for every person,” Bishop Finnigan said.
“She was heroic in her holiness, goodness, warmth and determination.”
Bishop Finnigan said St Mary’s determination shone through when “it wasn’t all smooth sailing” and when dealing with “human crosses”.
With “great confidence in her intercession” many people have testified to her help in facing their own crosses, he said.
“She had great trust that God would provide for her and the sisters,” Bishop Finnigan said, and “a deep understanding for the will of God in her life”.
“Blessed to have St Mary of the Cross as patron”, the Church is “fortunate to have the Sisters of St Joseph who live with her charism”, he said.
“We are truly grateful for St Mary’s life and we ask her blessing on this, her solemnity,” Bishop Finnigan said.
Members of the school choir from St Eugene College, Burpengary, led the singing.
Bishop Joseph Oudeman, Auxiliary for Brisbane, was also present with retired Bishop John Gerry, Brisbane archdiocese Moderator Fr Peter Meneely, Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary rector Monsignor Tony Randazzo and other Brisbane clergy.
The Josephites’ Queensland provincial Sr Moya Campbell and other Sisters of St Joseph were among the congregation of more than 1000 people.
A collection was organised in support of the Archbishop John Bathersby Endowment for the Santa Teresa Spirituality Centre, Ormiston, raising $8500.
Archbishop Bathersby had departed Bris-bane before August 8 to lead a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Spain.
At the beginning of the Mass Bishop Finnigan said Archbishop Bathersby was “with us in spirit and prayer”.