Today we celebrate the feast of our first “down-under” saint, Saint Mary of the Cross, better known to us in New Zealand and Australia as Mary MacKillop.
Saint Mary of the Cross is the first named saint to have travelled (probably by horse and buggy, perhaps on foot) through the streets of our city and prayed in three of our earthquaked churches, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, St Mary’s Pleasant Point and St Mary & St Frances de Sales in Rangiora. Her brother John, is buried in the Barbadoes Street cemetery.
The first Josephite sisters arrived in Temuka (the first New Zealand Josephite foundation) in 1883. In the last years of the nineteenth century Mary MacKillop’s sisters formed communities throughout New Zealand in response to the needs of education and poverty in our country.
Between 1897 and 1902 Mary made four visits to New Zealand to spent time with her sisters and their communities in our country. It was on her last visit to NZ in 1902 that she became ill and returned to Australia where she died in 1909.
There are many websites (some listed below) that give a good insight into the life and faith of this holy woman.