Our Patron

St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop was officially designated as the Patron of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta on May 19, 2011, during the Diocese’s Silver Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, the Bishop of Parramatta at that time had consulted with priests and people and approved the community’s desire to choose her as heavenly patron, due to her strong connection with the Diocese. She “interceded from the celestial realm to bring about a miraculous event for one of our parishioners” said Bishop Anthony, speaking of the healing of Veronica Hopson – the first miracle which led to the beatification of St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

The proclamation of her Patronhood was read during the Silver Jubilee Mass by His Excellency Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia at that time.

“The devoted community of the Diocese of Parramatta continues to hold the memory and honour the legacy of St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop, a revered Virgin,” he said.

Not only did she labour amongst us in this life, but she interceded from heaven to bring about a miracle for one of our parishioners.

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Third Bishop of Parramatta

A Parramatta miracle

Veronica Hopson resided in the Diocese of Parramatta and at the age of 24 in 1961 she was diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukaemia and only given months to live. Family and friends prayed for her through Mary MacKillop.

Despite the dire circumstances, Veronica not only defied the odds and scientific explanation but gave birth to six children and was a grandmother and 72 years of age when Mary MacKillop was canonised in 2010.

Her cure was accepted as a miracle by the Vatican in 1993. This acceptance subsequently paved the way for Mary MacKillop’s beatification in 1995 by Pope John Paul II at a ceremony in Sydney on 19 January 1995 and she was thereafter honoured as Blessed Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

Who was Mary MacKillop?

Mary MacKillop led an extraordinary life, born on January 15, 1842, in Fitzroy, Melbourne, to Scottish immigrants Alexander and Flora MacKillop. She passed away on August 8, 1909, in North Sydney. Despite early financial hardships that led to what she considered an “unhappy” childhood, Mary’s life took a remarkable turn.

At the age of 18, she moved to Penola, South Australia, to work as a governess for relatives. During her time there, she crossed paths with Fr Julian Tenison Woods. Together, they established a school for underprivileged children. This initiative laid the foundation for the creation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, making Mary the founder of Australia’s first religious institute.

In 1871, a dispute with the Bishop of Adelaide led to Mary’s excommunication. However, the following year, the Bishop reversed this decision, acknowledging Mary’s innocence. In a testament to her commitment, Mary journeyed by sea to Rome in 1873/74. There, she secured the Pope’s approval for the rule of her Order, a significant achievement.

Under Mary’s guidance, the Sisters of St Joseph thrived. They embarked on a mission to provide education, care for orphans, and engage in other charitable endeavours across the countryside. Despite facing challenges, Mary’s determination remained unwavering.

The Sisters of St Joseph continue Mary MacKillop’s legacy. They serve the disadvantaged in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Timor Leste, Scotland, Ireland, and Peru. Her story resonates as a testament to the transformative power of determination and compassion.

Mary MacKillop lived her life with an unwavering sense of gratitude and confidence
that God would always provide.

Sr Anne Derwin rsj, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph

A contemporary saint

Sister Anne Derwin rsj, a Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, expresses that Mary’s canonisation is an occasion for gratitude and a chance for personal introspection.

“Sister Mary MacKillop consistently lived her life with an unshakeable sense of gratitude and an abiding trust in God’s continuous providence,” remarks Sister Anne.

“Repeatedly, she spoke of ‘our benevolent God’ and exemplified a life marked by appreciative acceptance of God’s love and the responsibilities that came with it. Her existence truly mirrored that of Christ, to whom she had dedicated her life.

“During this significant juncture, it’s imperative that we express genuine gratitude to God for the blessing of canonisation. This moment prompts us to reaffirm our commitment to Christ and to further God’s mission in our contemporary world.”

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