It was confirmed Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI will pray at the tomb of Bl Mary MacKillop, when he visits Sydney in July for World Youth Day celebrations.
Mary MacKillop was a 19th century nun who was a pioneer of Australia’s Catholic school system. Her misunderstandings with Catholic bishops of the time led to her excommunication (which was soon lifted) and later on banishment from the city of Adelaide, among other things.
This never stopped her from her tireless work in the order she co-founded, the Sisters of St Joseph on behalf of poor and abandoned children. MacKillop lived her concluding years in Sydney, where her burial spot in North Sydney is now a site of pilgrimage, already visited by Paul VI, and John Paul II when he came to the city to beatify her in 1995.
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney said on the weekend however, that it is most unlikely that she will be canonized during the Holy Father’s visit, despite the pleas of her many devotees.
According to Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, WYD08 Coordinator, “The Holy Father will visit the tomb of Blessed Mary MacKillop, one of WYD08′s 10 patrons” [Other well known patrons include Our Lady Help of Christians, St Maria Goretti, St Faustina Kowalska, and Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati].
Fisher continued, “Mary MacKillop’s story of serving the poor and uneducated is inspiring to all Australians and we hope she will also inspire the youth of the world”.
This news was also confirmed by newly appointed papal nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, who said, “The Holy Father will be one of thousands of pilgrims who will visit her shrine in shrine in July.”
Up to 10,000 visitors a day are expected to visit Mary MacKillop Place at 8 Mount Street, North Sydney during World Youth Day from July 15-20.
The nuncio continued, “The pope will pray for Australia and the young pilgrims of the world so that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit and be witnesses to Christ.”
This will be the first World Youth Day in Australia (and only the second in the Southern Hemisphere) and will mark the first visit of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to Australia, expected to attract several hundred thousand pilgrims from a number of countries.