Ex-pat Australians welcome canonisation of Mary MacKillop

Up to 8,000 Australians have begun setting out for Rome this week, to attend the canonization of Blessed Mary MacKillop in Rome this coming Sunday. Many more millions will be watching the celebration in St Peter's Square, on television and the internet - among them, Australians living in the UK.

Lyn Newell, Deputy Head Teacher at Maria Fidelis school, Euston, London, (whose choir were chosen to sing for Pope Benedict during his recent visit) said: "I come from Sydney where she is buried. I was there just last year. For me as an Australian, as a woman and as a Catholic teacher,  the canonization of Mary McKillop is a very important event. When I look back at her life there are many parallels with the order she founded, the Josephites, and the Faithful Companions of Jesus (who set up Maria Fidelis School). An important feature about Catholic education is that we are always striving to serve the poor, looking out for where there is a need. That was what she did. She is an inspiring model, especially for women and for teachers."

Dr Cheryl Woodcroft a north London GP originally from Australia said that the news of canonisation was a major event for all Australians - not just Catholics.

While expressing reservations about the process of canonization, saying: "I believe there are so many saints all around us in everyday life," she went on to say:  "That said, I agree Mary MacKillop was a remarkable person - she provides an example of how to live a life of real calling and discernment. And I find that personally inspiring. She was clearly a woman strong in her faith, who met the forces of the church heirarchy (as it seems so many good people do) with that faith in Christ that led her to want to help those in need. She dared to be different, and true to her vision - reminding me of Mary Ward here in England 400 years ago."

Anna Conti, an Australian secretary in north London said: "I learnt about Mary MacKillop when I was at school. We never dreamt she would become a saint. It is wonderful news. I only wish I could go to Rome or even be back home in Sydney, where my family are, to share the celebration with them. I will be watching it on-line."

Steve Davies, a computer programmer from Perth, Western Australia  currently working in Hull, Yorkshire, said: "I'm not a practicing Christian but I have been reading about the life of Mary MacKillop  and her story makes me feel proud to say I am Australian.  I am glad to hear that someone like her has been recognised as Australia's first saint."

As the countdown to the Beatification gets underway, Cathnews in Sydney have a special web feature with blogs and all the latest information on the canonization. See: www.cathnews.com/default.aspx

See  also the official Mary MacKillop site:  www.marymackillop.org.au/

and ICN report: Australian Catholics jubilant over news of first saint www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=15681