Sydney (Agenzia Fides) – The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn is overflowing with joy. In a recent meeting, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph announced that the cause of their foundress Sister Mary MacKillop, a figure dear to the hearts of all Australians, is nearing the end of the path towards canonization. As Sister Judith Sippel, Project Manager of the Canonisation Committee at the Sisters of Joseph’s Congregational Administration Centre, said, hopes are high as in the coming months the Holy See could approve the second miracle that would conclude the process for canonization. The miracle being studied took place in 1995 and involved the healing of a woman with terminal cancer. The sisters in the communities of Canberra are also happy to be celebrating the 100th anniversary of their foundress's death this August 2009, which they will celebrate with festivities and gatherings throughout Australia.
Blessed Sister Mary MacKillop was chosen as one of the patrons of WYD in Sydney. She was the first Australian to be beatified and today is on her way to canonization. She was born of Scottish parents on January 15, 1842 in Fitzroy, Victoria. At 16 years of age, she met Fr. Julian Tenison Woods, who was in need of help with religious education for children in his parish. In 1866, following an inspiration of the Holy Spirit and encouraged by Fr. Woods, Mary opened the first School of Saint Joseph, the beginning of her mission to offer education to poor children. Many young women began to follow her and thus began the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. In 1867, the Bishop of Adelaide asked them to open a school in the city, and since then they have spread through Australia and to New Zealand, Peru, Brazil, Thailand, and Uganda.
Sister Mary died on August 8, 1909 in the Mount Street Convent in North Sydney, where her remains have been laid to rest. She was beatified by John Paul II on January 19, 1995 in Sydney. On his journey to Australia in 2008 for the WYD, Pope Benedict XVI prayed before her tomb.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph (Josephites), cofounded by Sister Mary and Fr. Julian Tenison Woods, is active in Oceania, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. There are over 1,200 sisters working in schools for orphans, street children, and children from poor families. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 11/5/2009)