Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Rebellious Saint

At a time when those seen as “rebels” within the Church are being to called to either repent or leave; the Holy Spirit inspires the Church to canonize a “rebellious” sister. There has been news of the Pope Benedict XVI intention to canonize Sister Mary MacKillop of Australia. She will become the first Australian saint.

She was the foundress of a teaching congregation, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, in 1866. They established schools, as well as orphanages, and women’s shelters. However, Sister Mary ran into conflict with Laurence Sheil, the Bishop of Brisbane over the congregations’ rule of life. Frustrated over Sister Mary’s apparent disobedience, he excommunicated her. He would later change his mind, and lifted the excommunication after six months. She would eventually gain papal approval of her congregation in 1888.

In the years leading up to that approval, she continued to run afoul of church hierarchy. After serving as Superior General of the congregation for ten years, she was removed by Patrick Francis Moran, Archbishop of Sydney. In 1899, her sisters returned her to the office. She died in 1909. Her canonization will take place in October 2010.

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