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Blog: A pilgrim’s point of view

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What an amazing lead up to the canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

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A week to remember, a moment to cherish.

This history-making event that we traveled so far for to St Peters Square Rome was just an experience of a lifetime. A moment of grace we all got to personally witness with our eyes and ears.

Back in 2008 I was lucky enough to have been involved in Sydney World Youth Day with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. My experience with both the canonisation and World Youth Day events have definitely shaped who I am today and where I want to be in years to come.

A great thing that these two wonderful events have in common is that they have brought many Australians together to celebrate and share the gift of faith.

The canonisation was more than what I expected it to be. Being apart of a crowd of many thousands of other Australian pilgrims was just extraordinary and uplifting experience.

All chanting for our Mary, religion and country…it couldn’t have been more prefect. Throughout these events I have been able to meet people from all different places with all kinds of backgrounds, striking up great friendships and coming together to learn from one another.

It is times like these that it makes you feel very privileged to be Australian and a part of these events.

The spectacular moment where we gathered at the Basilica of St Paul for the official mass of Thanksgiving for our new Australian canonised Saint, Mary (of the Cross) MacKillop. T

his celebration with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, cardinals, bishops, priests, Australian dignitaries and thousands of pilgrims was a dignified and angelic conclusion to the Rome journey for Mary.

However, this is not the end of our personal journey but more like the beginning of a new one.

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Remember we are but travellers here

…Mary MacKillop

On Friday, October 16 our youth pilgrimage set out to see Rome through the eyes of Mary MacKillop in 1873/1874.

We revisited landmarks, sites and churches that played an imperative role in Mary’s quest to establish the Rule of the Sisters of St Joseph to be approved by the Holy See.

As we walked with Mary we shared her experiences through extracts from her diary and letters she had penned. They gave us an insight into her thoughts and feelings during her time in Rome.

My favourite aspect of the day was the reflection points at each landmark we visited. These reflections really made me stop, think and take in the significance of each place that Mary visited and how it related to my life and spiritual journey.

However, what I found to be the most inspiring part of the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop’s Pilgrimage was the immense sacrifices Mary made and how she still remained positive and optimistic about life and her quest. So remarkable!

There were so many points on our journey that were moving, but particularly Gesu Chapel. After viewing the beautifully painted frescoes and sharing a moment of prayer, the priest asked if anyone wanted to sing. Our Timorese pilgrims (who had joined us only 12 hours earlier) sang the most beautiful hymn that gave us all goosebumps.

I think this was the moment that really illustrated our sense of community and our love for Mary MacKillop.

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My journey to Rome for the canonisation of Mary MacKillop has been a long time coming but now I am here an amazing sight to see.

Only 48hrs ago did I meet the other 43 youth on my pilgrimage tour. We all instantly connected as we all shared the same love and dedication to our Aussie saint-to-be Mary MacKillop.

As we set out on our pilgrimage through Rome to locations that Mary MacKillop visited over a 120 years ago, we all got to know each other by sharing our stories of why and how we were here celebrating in the life of Mary MacKillop.

In the short period of time we have so far visited

– the Catacombs (a little spooky and claustrophobic but a wonderful experience)

– the Basilica of the Santa Croce (where I was in absolute awe of the alter that held fragments of the Holy Cross)

– the Holy Stairs (which we had to walk up on our knees – let’s say a very interesting and painful, but memorable, experience), and

– the Basilica of St John Lateran (one word … BREATHTAKING)

Yesterday afternoon after our tour had finished we were given free time. And in the spirit of Mary MacKillop, myself and many of the other youth on the pilgrimage shared a lovely afternoon full of food, shopping and sight-seeing in Pantheon and at the iconic Trevi Fountain.

If Mary MacKillop were here today I am sure she would have joined us in the coin tossing and making a wish like we did!

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