Mass of Thanksgiving for St Mary of the Cross 30 October 2010

Whanganui’s St Mary’s Parish was one of the first in New Zealand to celebrate a Thanksgiving Mass for our newest saint.  On October 30th parishioners gathered with the Sisters of St Joseph of Whanganui and the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, to welcome local Sisters, clergy, dignitaries, family members and friends.

Kaumatua Mr Bill Murray welcomed all in a stirring powhiri.  He spoke of the honour of Mary MacKillop now being placed with the ancestors of the church and heralding new beginnings, and of the privilege of having the icon of Mary in the church for this Mass.   The icon was written by Michael Pervan of Auckland, a former pupil of the Sisters in Whanganui, and is similar to one painted for the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. 


In announcing the beginning of the celebration Catherine Shelton rsj spoke of the icon.  She spoke of how the artist, former pupil of the Sisters in Whanganui, Michael Pervan, had developed his talent to go on to produce such beautiful works.  In this Thanksgiving Mass, we were also celebrating the talents and gifts that all past-pupils had developed for the good of others.

As the Occasional Sermon, Sisters Marlene Dunn, Lucille Taylor, Colleen Keeble and Jill McLaughlin, all of whom had been in Rome for the Canonisation, shared their experiences of the pilgrimage.  Deep  joy, pride and awe came through in their words as they saw Mary’s banner high in St Peter’s Square, as they heard her pronounced saint of the church, and as her words were included in the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass.   They all spoke of the feeling of great unity of the occasion.

At the end of Mass, a presentation was made by Year 12 students of Cullinane College who had prepared an artwork of St Mary of the Cross.  This gift was to thank the Sisters for all they had done for the community, particularly their foundational work in Sacred Heart College, which now forms one of the cornerstones of Cullinane's history.  The work had grown out of their learning about Mary MacKillop, and featured many of Mary’s words chosen by the students and simply inscribed and coloured in pencil – a part of every classroom.

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The students were thanked by Anne Burke rsj and encouraged to continue to follow their dream as did Mary, with courage, trust and love and compassion for all.  As a waiata some of the Primary school students joined the Sisters in singing ‘A Cross of Stars’.

Bishop Owen Dolan, a former pupil of the Sisters, took the opportunity to speak of his schooling in Hawera, Taranaki, and of his association with the Sisters down the years.


The luncheon to follow was an opportunity for all to continue celebrating the gift of St Mary of the Cross to the world, and to share the joys and memories that her dream and vision had brought to the lives of all there in the past.
This celebration brought hope that in our young people there is hope for that vision of St Mary MacKillop to continue into the future.

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