Pope prays at Blessed Mary Mackillop Shrine

Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 / 04:32 am (CNA) .- Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to the Blessed Mary MacKillop Chapel this morning, which is dedicated to a woman who may become Australia’s first saint. 

Blessed Mary MacKillop, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in January 1995. She was born in 1842 in Victoria, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866 whose mission centred around educating the poor, establishing Catholic schools throughout Australia.

“I know that her perseverance in the face of adversity, her plea for justice on behalf of those unfairly treated and her practical example of holiness have become a source of inspiration for all Australians,” said the Pope in his address to Australian government dignitaries at his official welcome by the Prime Minister at Government House.

“Generations have reason to be grateful to her and to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and other religious congregations for the network of schools that they established here and for the witness of their consecrated life.”

The Pope kneeled at her tomb in the Chapel and at the altar, offering up prayers to her.

He then received a bronze bust from Sister Anne Derwin R.S.J., Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph as a gift to honor his visit.
The Pope then presented the sisters of the order with a statue of St. Joseph.

The congregation who had gathered in the church, comprising approximately 90 sisters of St. Joseph, then received a blessing from the Pope.
The Sisters of St Joseph have been campaigning for Mary Mackillop to be canonized. At present, Bl. Mary Mackillop requires one documented miracle before she can be declared a saint. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

The Pope then travelled to the Admiralty House, to pay a courtesy visit to  Major General Micheal Jeffery, Governor General, Australia's symbolic head of state, and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before boarding the Papal boat to meet over 150,000 pilgrims waiting for his arrival at Barangaroo on Sydney's Darling Harbour.