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Brisbane Catholics gather for Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in events across archdiocese

Pray for us: Worshippers pray alongside more than 1200 Brisbane Catholics who gathered at St Stephen’s Cathedral to celebrate the Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop on August 8. Photos: Alan Edgecomb

BRISBANE Catholics in their thousands flocked to be part of the Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop at St Stephen’s Cathedral and events across the archdiocese on August 8. 

Josephite Sister Moya Campbell said it was wonderful to see so many people with such devotion to St Mary of the Cross.

“She was a great woman, it’s easy to celebrate her life,” Sr Campbell said. 

“She did so much for Australia, for Australian children, in the years when she lived.”

Sr Campbell joined other Josephite Sisters and about 1200 Brisbane Catholics who attended a Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral celebrated by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

Students from Josephite-founded Our Lady’s College, Annerley, provided the music for the Mass.

“It was just so good to see those young people there, providing music and song,” Sr Campbell said.

She said the feast wasn’t just a celebration for the Josephites.

“Mary (MacKillop) doesn’t belong to the Josephites, she belongs to the whole Church now in Australia,” she said. 

“It’s wonderful to see people still coming in their hundreds to celebrate their life.”

Archbishop Coleridge spoke in his homily about the well-known emblem of the Sisters of St Joseph, which he said went back to the days of their founding.

“It begins with a large A, superimposed on a large M,” he said.

“Together they represent Ave Maria – Hail Mary, recognising that everything in the institute was entrusted to the care of the mother of Christ.”

Following a saint: Sisters of St Joseph are in the front rows for a Mass in St Stephen’s Cathedal on the feast of their order’s co-founder St Mary of the Cross MacKillop on August 8.

But they weren’t the only letters in the emblem – inserted into the A and the M were three Js.

Uncovering a mysterious ‘J’

Jesus and Joseph made up the first two Js, but the third was more elusive – it stood for John the Baptist.

Archbishop Coleridge said the inclusion of John the Baptist wasn’t a widely known fact and he said he had been wondering ever since why Mary MacKillop was so devoted to him, especially to include him in the company of Jesus and Joseph.

Looking for an answer, Archbishop Coleridge read from the Josephite Sisters’ original rule of 1868: “The sisters should speak much to the children of devotion to the glorious mother of God, to St Joseph and St John the Baptist – the companions of our dear Lord’s infancy and the members of the Holy Family”.

Archbishop Coleridge said there laid his answer – John the Baptist was regarded as part of the Holy Family.

“Now the spirituality of the Holy Family was central to the founding vision of the Sisters of St Joseph,” he said.

“They were themselves to live as a Holy Family.

“(The Josephite Sisters) were even to be drawn into the circle of the Holy Family itself and to draw the children into that same experience of intimate love. 

“They were to be companions to the children in whom they were to see the infant Jesus, just as John had been the companion of the Child Jesus. 

“But more they were to regard the children as their own flesh and blood; sisters to each other, certainly, but mothers and sisters to the children entrusted to them.

“In a sense they were even to be fathers, given how often the rule stresses the need for the sisters to care for the children just as Joseph, the patriarch as the rule names him, looked after the Child Jesus.”

Archbishop Coleridge gave thanks to St Mary of the Cross and the Josephites.

“We pray this morning that Mary will not only teach us what she herself learnt, but that she will also intercede for us who call her both patron and mother,” he said. 

“How could the joint intercession of the two mothers Mary ever fail?”

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