John O’Brien, assistant principal at St Carthage’s Primary School in Lismore, holds the Mary MacKillop Cross at St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore yesterday while the Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, chats with his wife Michelle and their children Bella, 3, and Lochy, 6. Marc Stapelberg
John O’Brien, assistant principal at St Carthage’s Primary School in Lismore, holds the Mary MacKillop Cross at St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore yesterday while the Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, chats with his wife Michelle and their children Bella, 3, and Lochy, 6. Marc Stapelberg

Crossing paths with saint

 CATHOLIC worshippers take Holy Communion under the Mary MacKillop Cross during Mass at St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore yesterday.

IT MAY be made of floorboards, but the Mary MacKillop Cross signifies the hard work of Australia’s first Catholic Saint.

In the lead-up to Mary MacKillop’s canonisation next month, the cross has been travelling through parishes across the nation and visited St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore yesterday.

Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, said the cross was a ‘relic which brings home the circumstances of educating the poor’.

“Today people think of the government looking after health and education, but if you go back 150 years communities had to set things up themselves, and it was allvoluntary,” he said.

“The Sisters of St Joseph, of which Mary was a member, would go out two-by-two into country areas and simply start a school. And they were the teachers.”

The cross is one of two made in 1986 from the floorboards of the Penola school house – the South Australian school where Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph first taught in 1860s.

“It’s the sign of the generosity of ordinary people trying to meet a great need – education – and the Sisters of St Joseph fulfilled that need,” Bishop Jarrett said.

“It just happened to be at the cathedral this morning and people came forward and touched it. It’s associated with Australia’s first saint.”

John O’Brien, assistant principal at St Carthage’s Primary School in Lismore, brought the cross into Mass yesterday morning.

“Mary MacKillop was one of those who started a lot of the Catholic schools,” he said.

“A lot of people have been asking about the cross.

“Mary MacKillop was an Australian woman, and it’s good for young Catholics to have someone they can relate to.”

Bishop Jarrett and Mr O’Brien will join others from the Northern Rivers travelling to The Vatican in Rome for Mary MacKillop’s canonisation on October 17.



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