Australians Pray to Native Saint for Flood Victims

Mary MacKillop Entrusted With Region’s «Biggest Disaster Ever»

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BRISBANE, Australia, JAN. 20, 2011 ( According to the archbishop of Brisbane, Australia’s only native saint knew «both the beauty and dangers of life» Down Under, and he is thus encouraging Australians to entrust to her intercession the victims of the Brisbane floods.

A «La Niña» weather pattern brought floods this month to vast sections of Australia’s eastern seaboard and devastated parts of the continent’s third-largest city, Brisbane. At least 24 people were killed and another dozen are still missing.

Brisbane’s archbishop, John Bathersby, sent an open letter to the people of Queensland, assuring the continued support of the Catholic community.

«I have asked the main agencies of the archdiocese — including education, welfare and parish services — to plan the Church’s central response to the recovery in South East Queensland, as similar planning occurs in other dioceses throughout Queensland,» he wrote. «We are determined to do everything we can to assist.»

Benedict XVI sent $US 50,000 to the relief effort through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Vatican’s charitable activity.

Father John Conway is currently the administrator of three parishes in an area at the bottom of the Toowomba ranges. According to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the priest reported that people in the region are making due with few supplies.

«This is the biggest disaster that has ever happened here, but the response from people in the area has been just phenomenal,» Father Conway said. «I’ve seen people who have been evacuated from their homes working in emergency centers. They are reaching out even in the midst of their own crises. Many places still have no drinking water. Roads are damaged, so trucks can’t get through. We can’t get fuel, milk, bread. We’re basically rationing everything.»

Archbishop Bathersby also praised the people’s response.

«May the people of Queensland continue to so magnificently reach out to those in need in the days, months and years to come,» he encouraged.

The prelate added: «In all of these efforts we also seek the intercession of St. Mary MacKillop. St. Mary knew of both the beauty and dangers of life in this great south land of the Holy Spirit. As we rebuild our lives and our communities, may her determined spirit and great example of generosity and compassion, inspire all our efforts for good at this time.»

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