Mary MacKillop to Be Australia's 1st Saint

Called a «True Inspiration» In a World Lacking Heroes

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ADELAIDE, Australia, DEC. 20, 2009 ( At a time when heroes are hard to come by, Blessed Mary MacKillop — who is soon to become Australia’s first saint — is a «true inspiration,» says the president of the country’s episcopal conference.

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide said this Sunday, after Benedict XVI approved the decree confirming a second miracle attributed to the nun, paving the way for the canonization of Australia’s first saint.

«Today is a great day for the Catholic Church in Australia and for the Australian nation at large,» the archbishop said.

«It is always a great joy when the Church recognizes in one of its members the creative, saving and sanctifying action of God at work amongst us,» he said. «It is a particular joy for us in Australia that Mary MacKillop is to be formally recognized in this way.»

On Saturday, Benedict XVI approved 21 decrees of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, five of which were decrees that attributed miracles to those the Church had already pronounced blessed. Among those was Sister Mary MacKillop of Australia.

Other decrees included those attesting to the heroic virtue of two Popes, Pius XII and John Paul II.

«Mary MacKillop has quite rightly gained a reputation in recent times as ‘The Australian Peoples’ Saint,'» Archbishop Wilson said. «Largely, this is because people can relate to her.»

Mary MacKillop, born in Victoria in 1842, founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, which established schools and charitable organizations across Australia and was devoted to the care of orphans, neglected children, the homeless, sick and elderly. She died in 1909.

«One of us»

«She was one of us,» the archbishop continued. «Born in Melbourne, and fired by a deep desire to serve God and to help alleviate the plight of the poor, Mary was an ordinary person who lived a holy life.

«Perhaps it is because of her down to earth nature that we relate to her so well. Mary MacKillop could be feisty and stubborn. She suffered terrible setbacks, discouragement and injustice and yet through all of this her faith in God did not falter.»

«At a time when real heroes are in short supply, Mary MacKillop is a true inspiration,» Archbishop Wilson continued. «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.»

The archbishop said that Australia looks forward to the canonization «with great hope and joy,» and he invited the entire country to take part in the celebrations being planned around the event.

Pope John Paul II beatified Sister MacKillop in 1995, saying she embodied the best of Australia and its people.

He noted her «genuine openness to others, hospitality to strangers, generosity to the needy, justice to those unfairly treated, perseverance in the face of adversity, kindness and support to the suffering.»

In 2008, Sister MacKillop was a key patron of the World Youth Day hosted by Sydney, Australia. Ahead of the international youth event, the government honored the nun by featuring her on a collector’s coin.

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