October 19

Governor Macquarie and Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop was a product of the free and open society created by colonial governor Lachlan Macquarie, according to His Eminence, Cardinal George Pell.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney was delivering the homily at a thanksgiving mass in Rome yesterday, according to a report by is the Cardinal’s biographer Tess Livingstone in The Australian (19/10)  ( Her excellent biography was reviewed in the National Observer Summer 2003)

Thousands of Australians packed the ancient Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, built on the site of St Paul's grave after he was beheaded under the Emperor Nero in the mid-60s AD.

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An extract of the homily appeared in The Australian (19/10) .

The opening paragraphs follow: 

 

Yesterday MacKillop was canonised at St Peter's Basilica here in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI as St Mary of the Cross, the first Australian-born saint in the 2000-year history of the Catholic Church.

We are delighted and grateful.The Australia of today that welcomes this canonisation is very different from the separate British colonies where Mary spent most of her life before the Commonwealth of Australia was established in 1901. In most ways Australia is now a better society because of the wisdom and hard work of our predecessors, women and men like Sister Mary.

The Australia that was and is Protestant or irreligious has made room for Catholics and we are grateful for this, too.

Lachlan Macquarie, described on his tombstone in Scotland as "the father of Australia", came to the colony of NSW as governor in 1810 to restore order after the NSW Corps, the Rum Corps, had overthrown William Bligh, the previous governor.Many of the convicts were Irish Catholics, who were flogged if they did not attend the Protestant service on Sunday and had no freedom to practise their religion.

Although Macquarie laid the foundation stone for the first St Mary's Church in Sydney in 1821, for most of the colony's first 30 years the public celebration of mass was forbidden.

Indeed, on becoming governor Macquarie was obliged to swear on oath that he did not believe in the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation.Macquarie was determined to change a convict colony into the beginnings of a nation and he built fine buildings, founded towns and encouraged education for Europeans and for Aborigines.

He insisted that reformed convicts should be accepted into society.

St Mary was born in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in 1842, the child of free settlers, some decades after Macquarie and before the discovery of gold turned the colony upside down, bringing hundreds of thousands of immigrants seeking their fortune.

We believe that she shared the best characteristics of the children of the free settlers, as she exploited the openness of society that Macquarie encouraged, struggled to spread education and battled effectively to combat the Catholic v Protestant antagonisms, the sectarianism that waxed and waned until the middle of the 20th century. She, however, suffered more from her fellow Catholics than from outsiders.


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