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A model to the world

AUSTRALIA’S first saint is a reminder that Catholics should strive to be a gift to the entire world, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

In a homily given to almost 2000 Catholics at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Archbishop Coleridge said St Mary of the Cross MacKillop was Australia’s gift to the world.

“She is one of the great daughters of Australia, now she’s our gift to the whole world,” he said.

Archbishop Coleridge shared these words on St Mary of the Cross’ feast day on August 8.

He joined Queensland clergy, including Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin, Brisbane auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnigan, and apostolic nuncio in Australia Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, who was visiting the city for the first time.

Archbishop Coleridge said the nuncio’s presence in Brisbane, where he celebrated his first Mass for St Mary, was a reminder that Australia was part of a universal Church.

“We may be far away but are immersed in the great communion of the church and of God,” he said.

“We are very much daughters and sons of Australia but we’re also called to be a gift not only for the whole church but for the world.”

Archbishop Coleridge said European settlers called Australians “antipodean”, a term that suited Mary MacKillop, especially in her battles with Catholic authorities.

“St Mary of the Cross MacKillop may look conventionally European … but the sanctity that emerged in her was distinctively antipodean,” he said.

“That’s why it seemed strange to some, especially the Bishops, all of them European, and attuned to a different sanctity.

“She wasn’t bound by the ways of the old world.

“Mary and her Sisters went where others wouldn’t or couldn’t go.

“The Sisters could find themselves in outback places where they’d go for days without Mass, often weeks without getting to confession.

“It’s hard for us to imagine how new or radical this form of consecrated life was at that time.”

Bougainville-born Catholic Lucy Juncker said St Mary was “a woman for all Australians”.

“The other congregations are from overseas but she was Aussie,” Mrs Juncker said.

“Just reading her life story and what she did for the underprivileged, the people who couldn’t afford to send their children to school, that she was grassroots.”

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