Birthday letter from Mary MacKillop

15 January 2017 | General Interest

Dear Sisters and Friends

I pen this on my 175th Birthday.

Birthdays are for remembering and celebrating. Clans MacDonald, Campbell and Sept MacKillop have been telling stories of our lives up to 1865 – so together let us marvel at the 150 years that have passed since then.

Father Founder and I are continually in awe at how our dream has unfolded. We remember those early days when we set out to respond to the educational needs of bush children. We rejoice now about those who have embraced our dream and continue to reinterpret this need. We follow you to remote locations and city centres around New Zealand and Australia, South America and Timor Leste, Ireland and Central America, and marvel at the energy and creativity you bring to the founding vision. We are so excited that Sisters are now in Scotland and that so many of you visit the place of my parent’s birth. We share your emotions as you stand on these sacred lands. We walk with you also where Father Founder lived and ministered and see your deepening understanding of that early vision.

I recall with great clarity the early days of care for the ‘wretched poor’. I know you do not use those words now, but you continue to reach out to those whose dignity is in any way compromised. I watch you with the unlearned, the aged, the lonely, children with disabilities, single parents and their children and my heart is glad. I watch with awe as these works flourish and diversify into new ministries as needs change.

You may recall, my dear children, that I had a great desire to work with the Indigenous Peoples in the lands in which we minister. It did not happen in my time and it is of great comfort to Father Founder and to me that you have served, and continue to serve first nations people wherever you are.

 Were we with you now we would be encouraging you in your efforts to embrace multiculturalism, assist migrants and battle for the rights of those who seek asylum. We know how it is to be a stranger in a strange land. I clearly recall my struggles in Rome with food, language and climate.

We are with you as you gather in the places of those early foundations throughout Australia and New Zealand. We are pleased that so many Sisters are now ministering in Ireland – we owe the Irish Sisters a great debt of gratitude for their service in those early days.

Father Founder was delighted that his chalice travelled from Lochinvar for use in some our Sesquicentenary celebrations. He is glad it is still being used and not just looked at.

I just exhort you to continue to live the dream. Do not be discouraged by difficulties and hardships and we know they arise in many forms.

Father Founder and I continue to shake our heads in disbelief at the work of our good God and say ‘little did either of us then dream what was to spring from so small a beginning’.

Sr Kristin Johnston and Sr Antoinette Baldwin