15 October 2010

On 17th October Mary MacKillop, Mother Mary of the Cross, co-foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, will become a Saint of the Church, when she is canonised in Rome.

Mary MacKillop was born in Melbourne in 1842, and as a member of a large and poor family she early developed a love for education, a passion for justice and a deep reliance on God in the most trying circumstances.  In her early 20s she committed herself to education, focusing on the educational needs of families in rural and isolated areas in Australia, and then in New Zealand also.  Her philosophy was summed up in her statement “Never see a need without doing something about it.”

In 1883 the first Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart came to New Zealand, to open a school in Temuka, and in the following ten years another nine parish primary schools were opened in rural New Zealand.  By 1963, 163 Sisters were teaching in 36 primary schools and three secondary schools throughout the country.

Since then, Sisters have diversified into a range of ministries, including pastoral care in parishes, schools, family support and care services in rural and isolated communities, and educational work in various organisations.

The New Zealand Catholic Education Office, along with New Zealand’s Catholic schools, warmly congratulates the Sisters of St Joseph (affectionately referred to as the Brown Joes) for their long and illustrious contribution to the education of thousands of New Zealanders.  Vision, dedication and enthusiasm are the hallmarks of good education – the Sisters can proudly stand and honestly accept this descriptive accolade.

Mary MacKillop’s Canonisation will be celebrated as follows in New Zealand:

Wellington Archdiocese: November 1, 5.30pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Dunedin Diocese: November 7, 11am at Arrowtown (where a school was established in 1897).
Auckland Diocese: November 13, 11.30am St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Christchurch Diocese: November 20, 1pm at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, and November 21, 11am at St Joseph’s Church, Temuka.
Hamilton Diocese: November 28, 2pm at St Mary’s Church, Rotorua.
Palmerston North Diocese: December 4, 11am at Holy Spirit Cathedral.

For more information about Mary MacKillop visit www.marymackillop.org.au.

For information about the Sisters of St Joseph visit www.sosj.org.au.

Many New Zealanders will join in congratulating the Sisters of St Joseph – they have served the nation well.

Patrick J. Lynch