SYDNEY, Australia, DEC. 21, 2009 ( The woman whose cure from inoperable lung cancer has been decreed by the Church as a true miracle of Blessed Mary MacKillop, hopes the nun's canonization will be a source of inspiration.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was quoted in a statement released over the weekend by the Sisters of St. Joseph, after the Vatican announced that Benedict XVI approved the decree attesting to the veracity of the miracle.

The decree paves the way for Mother Mary MacKillop's canonization, which will make her Australia's first saint.

"This is wonderful news," the woman stated. "I feel personally humbled and grateful to Mary MacKillop and the influence she has had on my life."

"It is a day to celebrate and reflect on Mary's life, the work she did and the love she has shown to so many of us ordinary people around the world," she continued. "Mary MacKillop has always provided me with hope and inspiration, particularly during the most difficult times in my life.

"I hope this news today provides others, especially younger Australians, with inspiration and encouragement to live as generously and compassionately as Mary did."

On Saturday, Benedict XVI approved a total of 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 Mother Mary MacKillop.

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


The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the congregation founded by Mary MacKillop, reacted with joy.

"This is a special time not only for the sisters but also for Australia and the universal Church," Sister Anne Derwin, Congregational Leader said in a statement.

"Mary has been acknowledged as not only truly saintly but also one of Australia's true heroes," she continued. "Mary was a woman ahead of her time; she was bold and tenacious and let nothing stand in the way of her care for others.

"Her strength, humor and egalitarian vision have important relevance in today's busy and complex times."

"The universal recognition of Mary’s holiness for the Church and the whole world will inspire future generations both in Australia and throughout the world," added Sister Anne.

Mary MacKillop, was born in Victoria in 1842, to Scottish parents. She founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866, at the age of 25.

The congregation established schools and charitable organizations across Australia, especially in the country's outback. The sisters cared for orphans, neglected children, the homeless, the sick and the elderly.

Mother MacKillop's efforts to found her congregation met with some resistance from the hierarchy in Australia. At one point she was excommunicated by a bishop, only to have the sentence removed five months later.

She died in 1909. Since then the congregation she founded has grown and now numbers about 1,200, working mainly in Australia and New Zealand, but also scattered singly or in small groups around the world.

An early Christmas

On Sunday, Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, called the announcement "a welcome Christmas present."

He noted that Australians, who are used to called her Blessed Mary MacKillop, will now have to get used to calling her St. Mary MacKillop: "It is a change Australians will be very happy to make."
Cardinal Pell reflected that it isn't "easy to become a saint," adding that "saints often answer the challenges of the time and promote religious renewal."

"In Mary's case, she brought education and religious instruction to many poor youngsters, especially in the bush," he said.

"Mary MacKillop stands at the heart of the Catholic tradition," the archbishop of Sydney affirmed. "She was unusual in her faith and prayer, her ability to inspire others to join her -- so lacking today -- her ability to forgive and her loyalty to her fellow sisters and the Church leadership, which did not always treat her well."

Cardinal Pell noted that Mother MacKillop "suffered much and was treated very badly on occasions. She was often sick, regularly short of money, excommunicated by one bishop and expelled from Adelaide by another."

"She prayed and persevered, never lapsed into bitterness, and regularly spoke well of her opponents," the cardinal continued. "God blessed her in her troubles and her work prospered."

"By the time of her death in 1909, she had established 109 houses, staffed by 650 sisters teaching 12,400 pupils in 117 schools across Australia and New Zealand."