Pastoral letter marks feast day of Blessed Mary MacKillop

New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops have written a pastoral letter on Blessed Mary MacKillop, which will be available in parishes on her feast day, Sunday 8 August.

In their letter the bishops encourage parishes and schools to find ways to celebrate the canonisation of Mary MacKillop to take place in Rome, 17 October 2010.

The canonisation will recognise for the first time an Australian born saint among the great models for Christian living, say the bishops.

“Mary MacKillop is truly a woman for our time. Her holiness, powered by her deep love of God, together with her street-wise philosophy, make her a model of hope for all who grapple with doubt, misunderstanding and injustice. She brings us the gift of hope”.

The bishops describe Mary MacKillop’s strong connection with New Zealand. Her Sisters established many schools throughout the country and Mary herself visited on four occasions between 1894 and 1902 to assist the Sisters.

“She felt very much at home here and was loved by the people she met,” say the bishops. “She would often speak of them and the country with great affection”.

In Australia, a national tour of the MacKillop Cross will begin in Goulburn on Sunday. The cross, made from timber in the first MacKillop school house in Penola, will travel through each Australian state and territory before returning to Sydney in time for canonisation celebrations.