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Promise of funding for saint’s precinct

Local

The Labor Party has pledged to invest $750,000 towards the completion of the Mary MacKillop Precinct in Kensington if it wins the Federal Election.

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Senator Don Farrell and Labor Candidate for Sturt Cressida O’Hanlon last month announced that the funding would be used on the redevelopment of the Mary MacKillop Museum and the creation of a local walking trail.

Australia’s only saint recognised by the Catholic Church, Mary MacKillop lived and worked from 1872 to 1883 on the Kensington site that is now known as Mary Mackillop Precinct.

Mary MacKillop founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), who established schools and welfare institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand.

More than 700 Josephite Sisters currently serve the Order’s works in Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Ireland, Timor Leste, Scotland and Brazil. Across Australia, there are more than 400 schools in ‘the Josephite tradition’, and the Sisters continue their involvement in health, social services and advocacy for justice for the aged, women and children in distress and Indigenous Australians.

Once completed, the $1.65m project will link with existing precinct facilities including: the Bethany Conference Centre, the historic St Joseph’s Chapel and the beautiful gardens of the Kensington Josephite Convent.

Senator Farrell said the upgraded facilities were expected to draw groups, pilgrimages and local, national and international visitors to the historic precinct and serve as an important educational instrument for local schools and community groups as well as individuals.

Sr Mary Ryan RSJ said the pledged funding, if it materialised, would make a huge difference, enabling the Sisters to repay a large loan taken out to complete the project.

“We are still in fundraising mode,” she said, “as the overall cost of the redevelopment far exceeds the value of this pledge.”

Sr Ryan said approaches had been made to the Liberal candidate James Stevens for a similar commitment from the Liberals.

Liberal candidate James Stevens has told the Order that if elected, he would investigate any funding options for the project.

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