In 2010, Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See, the Hon Tim Fischer, said he was privileged to be working closely with the Sisters of St Joseph to ensure that all governmental aspects of the events surrounding the canonisation of the nation's first saint go smoothly.
Mr Fischer said he hoped that Mary's extraordinary trip to Rome to see Pope Pius IX in 1873 would serve as inspiration for pilgrims to her canonisation ceremony. “All of us should recall that in 1873, a thirty-one year old Australian lady battled her way across the high seas, then through Egypt, across the Mediterranean, then Brindisi to Rome to meet with Pope Pius XI Mr Fischer said.
“Already she had opened schools at Penola in 1866. She was an extraordinary Australian and an extraordinary spiritual leader, deserving the high level access which led to rulings in favour of the Sisters of Saint Joseph after the various troubles.
“As we walk up the Via della Conciliazione to Saint Peter's, we might think of that one brave lady who travelled on her own and salute her dedication and determination.”
“It has been a joy and a privilege to work closely with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, especially Sr Anne Derwin at HQ and Sr Maria Casey in Rome on the Public Diplomacy and coordination aspects of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop,” he said.
And, always one to promote Australian products on the international stage, Mr Fischer made special mention of the generosity of some Australian winemakers who have assisted in canonisation events.
"I salute many involved with the huge workload associated with the canonisation and I sincerely thank the Coonawarra Wineries and two from Penola who have made a terrific donation of wines of excellence, to help the various functions associated with the canonisation, in a wonderful gesture,” he said.
Reprinted with permission from Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.