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Saintly relic to be on show at annual MacKillop Mass

By Emilie Ng

St Mary MacKillop

St Mary MacKillop

AN ornament from the top of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop’s first coffin will be displayed at her annual feast day Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, on August 8.

The decorative wooden piece in the shape of an open book is part of a “scarce” collection of relics given to Josephite Sisters who personally knew Mary MacKillop.

Mary MacKillop died in 1909 and was buried at Gore Hill Cemetery, Sydney, but her body was later exhumed and transferred in 1914 to a memorial chapel in North Sydney.

At the request of the Josephites’ then Mother General Baptista Molloy, originally from Queensland and a student at St Joseph’s Primary School, Kangaroo Point, pieces of the coffin were carved into relics and given to every Josephite Sister who knew Mary MacKillop. Mother Baptista Molloy is the only other Josephite buried at North Sydney.

The piece that will be displayed at the annual feast day Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral is kept at the Mary MacKillop Centre in Annerley.

Queensland Josephite Sister Margaret McKenna inherited the relic from a fellow Josephite teacher when the two worked at Inglewood.

The Sister was a novice with the Sisters of St Joseph while Mary MacKillop was still alive but confined to a wheelchair.

“These relics are treasured by the Sisters,” Sr McKenna said.

She said the annual feast day Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral honoured “a great Australian” who knew what it was like to struggle.

“She’s somebody a lot of people turn to because she understands,” she said.

Sr McKenna said seeing people ask for the saint’s intercession either in Brisbane’s dedicated Mary MacKillop chapel or in North Sydney was “amazing”.

“When I see them praying my heart goes out to them because their prayers must be very serious,” she said.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop’s annual feast day Mass on August 8 will start at 10am.

Morning tea and an opportunity to view displays on ministries and organisations within the archdiocese will follow the Mass.

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