Recognising Mary's Life and Work
Even at the time of her death those who knew her, or knew of her extraordinary work, spoke openly of her holiness.
Cardinal Moran, having visited her just days before she died and believing that history was being made before him, assured the Sisters that Mary’s death would bring many blessings, not just to the Congregation she founded, but to the whole Australian church. He commented that he had assisted at the death bed of a saint.
The Australian press, both secular and religious, were uncommonly united in speaking of her holiness, her heroic service of God, her open hearted love for the poor and deprived, and her determination to bring a Catholic education to the children of the colonies. The Freeman’s Journal, no less, claimed that Mary’s death left an irretrievable blank in the national life of Australasia. What she had done for the glory of God and in service of the people of this land, “would stand in years to come as the noblest record of an Australian woman.” (Freeman’s Journal, 19th August, 1909).
Across the nation in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney newspapers spoke of her seemingly relentless efforts to bring the love and knowledge of God to the length and breadth of this country, and to bring hundreds of ordinary women to join her. Among Protestants and Catholics, Christi ans and Jews, Mary MacKillop was seen to be one who made her mark on the hearts and minds of the people of this land, one who touched our national character with a vision which was both uplifting and ennobling.
Mary MacKillop was a young woman with a dream to make a difference in our world. Her dream encompassed opening simple schools where there was no class distinction, offering refuge to the most neglected, and bringing practical help to families. Mary felt very strongly the widespread ignorance of the whole of the spiritual dimension of life and dedicated her life to bringing the message of God’s love to all whom she encountered. She was a passionate woman whose youthful spirit has touched the ‘heart and soul’ of the Australian people. She embodies all that is best in our Australian nation and its people. Her spirit and values continue to inspire young people today to make a difference in these times.
One of the appeals that ‘saints’ have for people in the world today, is that they are ordinary people who have looked at life and, in the day to day circumstances in which they lived, succeeded in becoming a special person who touches into the deepest yearnings of the heart. Mary MacKillop was no exception. She was an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. She was a woman who dared to love. She knew that God loved her and she responded to this love with confidence and courage.