Calls for Mary MacKillop to be patron saint of abuse victims

An American Jesuit priest has called for Blessed Mary MacKillop to be named as the patron of abuse victims when she is made a saint on 17 October.

An Australian television documentary due to be screened on 10 October, will present evidence showing that Blessed Mary MacKillop was at one time excommunicated from the Church for speaking out against an abusive priest.

Writing in America magazine, Fr James Martin SJ said: “Now victims of sex abuse and their families and friends, and all who desire reconciliation and healing in the Church, can pray to Mary MacKillop, who understands them perhaps better than any other saint.”

Mary was born in Melbourne to Scottish immigrant parents in 1842 and became a nun in 1866. In the following year she founded Australia's first religious order, the Josephites, dedicated to caring for the poor. Bishop Lawrence Shiel of Adelaide, excommunicated her in 1871,  for insubordination.

The documentary says that  Sr Mary had discovered that children were being abused by a Fr Patrick Keating, in parish near Adelaide. She reported him to the director of the Josephites, Fr Tenison-Woods and Fr Keating was eventually sent back to Ireland. However the documentary says that another priest a Fr Horan who was a colleague of Fr Keating complained to the bishop about her insubordinate behaviour.  Five months later, when the bishop was dying, he reinstated Sr Mary MacKillop and she was able to continue her work.

In 2009, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide made a public apology to the Josephite Sisters  for her wrongful excommunication.  He said: “On behalf of myself and the archdiocese, I apologise to the sisters … for what happened to them in the context of the excommunication, when their lives and their community life was interrupted and they were virtually thrown out on the streets … This was a terrible thing."

Source: America Magazine/ABC

For more information see the official Mary MacKillop site:

and ICN report: Australian Catholics jubilant over news of first saint

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