Principals take inspiration from Mary MacKillop

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30 August 2023

Catholic school leaders from the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) western region participated in a faith and religious leadership formation program from 21 to 25 August focused on the missionary spirit of Australia’s first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

Facilitated by the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre and MACS, and taking in key sites in Portland, Penola and Adelaide, the five-day pilgrimage explored Mary’s extraordinary contribution to Catholic education in Australia and her inspirational, faith-filled life.

Rachel Holdsworth, Principal of Holy Spirit Parish School, Manifold Heights, said the pilgrimage had been a deep and moving learning experience.

‘Mary faced much adversity throughout her life, but had a profound love, faith and trust in God. She spoke and wrote about “leaning into God”, “leaving it quietly with God” and recognising God is always with us during times of struggle.

‘Despite significant obstacles, Mary and the Sisters of St Joseph imparted an extraordinary contribution to Catholic education, particularly for their prodigious establishment of schools, and a deep concern for the education of poor and marginalised children in remote areas’, she said.

Kerryn Sells, Principal of Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Ocean Grove, said: ‘Mary modelled the Catholic social teaching of solidarity through her actions for justice.

‘She never judged a person, but strove to change their circumstances providing friendship, emotional support, and a place to live for those who were alone and isolated. She enabled people to remain connected to society, and empowered them with self-worth and dignity in order to help themselves.

‘Her example remains incredibly relevant and important to the way we operate our Catholic schools today’, Kerryn said.

Principals at the formation program
Catholic school leaders from the MACS western region on a five-day pilgrimage to explore St Mary of the Cross MacKillop’s extraordinary contribution to Catholic education in Australia.