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Museum brings saint’s spirit to life

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The old and the new have been brought together in the redeveloped Mary MacKillop Museum at Kensington which was opened this month by the Governor of South Australia, Hieu Van Le AC.

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A door from the Penola stable where Mary established her first school and a desk given to her as a Christmas gift by her Sisters in 1881 are just a few of the historic artefacts on display alongside contemporary storytelling features.

Funded by donations and a State Government grant, the museum comprises two galleries, a gift shop and a café which is expected to open soon. There are also plans for a walking trail of historic sites associated with the saint.

The museum is in the grounds of the chapel built by Sr Mary MacKillop in 1872 and the Josephite’s first permanent motherhouse.

Addressing 320 guests at the opening, Governor Van Le said it was a “great joy” to return for “this very special occasion”. He described Mary MacKillop as a role model for all Australians, no matter their background or walk of life.

Sisters of St Joseph Congregational leader Sr Monica Cavanagh said the museum would be a place where visitors could “imbibe her spirit and breathe in the life she shared so generously with so many people”.

“It was here that Mary lived, walked, worked, prayed, laughed and anguished from 1872 to 1883,” she said.

“Love was her driving force, a love grounded in the belief that she was the beloved of God. Her life story provides us with a window into the heart of God’s love.”

Sr Cavanagh congratulated the museum director Sr Mary Ryan, the task force and the fundraising group for “bringing to birth” the museum and for the Sisters in Adelaide and their supporters for “believing in the dream”.

“Their enthusiasm is a living example of Mary MacKillop’s trust in the providence of God,” she said.

Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ said the thumb print of Mary MacKillop was felt strongly in places such as the Copper Coast where that morning (December 1) he had celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Moonta Catholic Church.

“The Josephites were there from the beginning and their school at Wallaroo is the oldest-surviving Josephite-founded school in the country,” he said.

Referring to the decision of St Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Wood in 1866 to establish the order, he quoted the saint: “Little did either of us then dream of what was to spring from so small a beginning.”

“It’s impossible to know the work that God’s grace does in any one of us; Jesus in the Gospel looked at people and saw not just who they were but who they might become, as did Mary MacKillop in following Him.”

He also spoke of her mistreatment by the Church hierarchy and reiterated Archbishop Philip Wilson’s “very moving” apology to the Sisters in 2009.

 

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