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One hundred and fifty years ago, on 19 March, Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop RSJ and her Sisters participated in a liturgy at Saint Ignatius Parish, Norwood, to welcome them back following Mary’s excommunication. Mother Mary wrote about the day:

“During the troubles from September 1871 to March 1872, the Sisters suffered very much. Some took situations as governesses, seamstresses and nurses, and with their earnings mainly supported the young members who had been deprived of habits and convents, and who could not return to their homes and friends. On Saint Joseph’s day 1872, a large number of the Sisters was allowed to resume their Habits, and things began to look brighter for them. Many painful things have to be passed over. The work had its severe trials, but good came out of all. During all that time of bitter trial, the Sisters were deprived of the presence in their midst of their father Founder (Julian Tenison Woods), but the Jesuit Fathers, who had always been their friends, came nobly to their aid. Their church in Norwood was always open to them. In their confessionals, the poor Sisters obtained the encouragement and advice they so much needed, and when, on Saint Joseph’s day 1872, the newly appointed Administrator of the diocese, Dr Reynolds, ordered all the Sisters within reach to resume their Habits, it was in the church of Saint Ignatius, Norwood, that the ceremony connected with their doing so was carried out, and a thrilling sermon preached by Father Hinteroecker on the occasion. No words can express the debt of gratitude under which the Sisters lie to the noble sons of Saint Ignatius.”

Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop was unjustly treated and endured the ignominy of excommunication by Bishop Sheil for alleged insubordination. The Jesuits gave Mary and her Sisters solid support during these months. Fr Johannes Hinteroecker was the parish priest of Norwood. Fr Josep Tappeiner formed the view that it was an incorrect act by the Bishop and found ways to offer sacramental and material help. It is a good reminder of the need to discern culture and protect people’s rights.

We recall another event this year. Vatican II began 60 years ago. The Council was instrumental in renewing the Church – both its inner life and its relationship to other Christian traditions, other religions, and the wider world. John XXIII set a tone when opening the Council:

“The Church should never depart from the sacred treasure of truth inherited from the beginning. But at the same time, she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and the new forms of life introduced into the modern world.”

Vatican II relied on aggiornamento (a bringing up to date) and ressourcement (a return to the sources).

The Jesuit historian John O’Malley claims Church language changed

“from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to conversation, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical and top-down to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from static to changing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from prescriptive to principled, from defiant to open-ended, from behaviour modification to conversion of heart, from the dictates of law to the dictates of conscience, from external conformity to the joyful pursuit of holiness”.

As we engage with being Catholic today, these are still good lessons in terms of finding and forming a community of faith.

Fr Peter Hosking SJ
Rector

OREMUS (Let us pray)

We remember all in our College community. May our prayers comfort those suffering at this time. May God’s blessing be a source of support in their sorrow and loss, and bring courage, patience, and hope.

For those who have died:

  • Mr Vincenzo Minucci, father of staff member Maria Minucci and grandfather of Nicholas (Year 12) and Max (Year 9)
  • Dennis Slade, father of staff member Cathy Fleming and grandfather of staff member Serena Slade

“Ask and you shall receive … knock and the door will be opened unto you.” (Matt 7:7)

If you would like someone to be remembered by the College community in prayer (even anonymously), please provide details to the Rector, class or Mentor Teacher, or House Leader.

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