.- Great excitement is emanating from Australia as the date for the canonization of Blessed Mary MacKillop approaches. She will be officially welcomed into the ranks of the saints by Pope Benedict XVI in a little over two months.
Bl. Mary MacKillop, the foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, will become Australia's first saint when she is canonized in Rome along with five others on Oct. 17. Included among the other five is Blessed Andre Bessette of Montreal.
The Archdiocese of Sydney has acclaimed Blessed MacKillop's canonization as "a milestone in our nation's history" and "an uplifting and celebratory occasion," promoting her influence and legacy on the entire population of the island continent.
"Mary epitomizes the strength of our forebears which made Australia the nation it is today," according to the archdiocese.
Catholics in Sydney will be celebrating a feast day Mass late in the afternoon at St. Mary's Cathedral in the heart of the city before the canonization ceremony is televised there. In traditional Aussie fashion, a "sausage sizzle" will accompany the viewing.
AAP reported that further south, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis J. Hart announced over the weekend that a morning Eucharistic Celebration will take place at St. Patrick's Cathedral and will be followed by a "colorful procession" beginning at Blessed MacKillop's first home.
The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens, will be the venue for music and entertainment, a prayer service, followed by the live feed of the ceremony from Rome.
The canonization ceremony, which will celebrated in Rome in the morning, is to be broadcast after 7 p.m. Australian time. The ceremony will consist of a brief biography read about each of the candidates for sainthood, the presentation of readings or prayers, and then Pope Benedict XVI will proceed with the Rite of Canonization.
The canonization is also drawing interest from outside the Church. For example, social network www.xt3.com launched an initiative at the end of July called the "Looking for Mary" video competition. From Aug. 18 to Sept. 20, participants will be able to submit a two to three minute video on how they see Blessed MacKillop in the world. A $5,000 cash prize will go to the winner.