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Canonization preview: Blesseds Mary MacKillop, André Bessette

October 15, 2010

On October 17, Pope Benedict will canonize six religious, the most famous of whom are Blessed Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842-1909) and Blessed André Bessette (1845-1937).

At the age of 24, Blessed MacKillop, along with Father Julian Tenison Woods, founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. In his 1995 beatification homily, Ven. John Paul II preached:

In the vastness of the Australian continent, Blessed Mary MacKillop was not daunted by the great desert, the immense expanses of the outback, nor by the spiritual "wilderness" which affected so many of her fellow citizens. Rather she boldly prepared the way of the Lord in the most trying situations. With gentleness, courage and compassion, she was a herald of the Good News among the isolated "battlers" and the urban slum-dwellers. Mother Mary of the Cross knew that behind the ignorance, misery and suffering which she encountered there were people, men and women, young and old, yearning for God and his righteousness. She knew, because she was a true child of her time and place: the daughter of immigrants who had to struggle at all times to build a life for themselves in their new surroundings. Her story reminds us of the need to welcome people, to reach out to the lonely, the bereft, the disadvantaged.

The current (2004) edition of the Roman Martyrology lists her among the saints and blesseds of August 8.

Brother André, a Canadian, joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross at the age of 25. For decades, he served as the community’s porter, and numerous cures were attributed to his prayers. Deeply devoted to St. Joseph, he raised funds for the construction of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, a shrine that would in time become Canada’s largest church. The Roman Martyrology lists him among the saints and blesseds of January 6.


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