Canonisation plans unveiled in Melbourne

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Pope Benedict XVI will officially declare Mary MacKillop a saint at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome on October 17, 2010 following a long campaign in Australia to have her legacy recognised.

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Official plans for celebrations in Mary’s birthplace of Melbourne were unveiled on Sunday. Archbishop Hart said a traditional morning mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral will be followed by a colourful procession from Mary’s first home in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, led by bands and parishes. A festival of music and other entertainment at the Royal Exhibition Building and a prayer service will later lead into a live feed of the canonisation ceremony from Rome. “I think it’s a day we’ll all remember where we were on the day that Australia’s first saint was canonised,” Archbishop Hart said. “This will touch and influence and inspire all Australians.” The Victorian government has announced a contribution of $250,000 towards the celebrations. Guardian of conjoined Bangladeshi twins Trishna and Krishna, Moira Kelly, prayed to Mary MacKillop during their protracted separation surgery in November, 2009. Ms Kelly, director of Children First Foundation, is now a Victorian patron of the Mary MacKillop celebrations. “She’s the Mother Theresa of Australia, I think,” she said. “I’d like to think young Australians could follow in Mary MacKillop’s footsteps.” AFL player Majak Daw, who completed Year 12 at MacKillop College in Werribee in 2009, says his studies were punctuated by the faith of Mary MacKillop. Daw said he remained inspired by Mary MacKillop’s example of helping others and taking up offers of support. “Just treat everyone in the way I want to be treated, that’s what Mary MacKillop did,” he told AAP. And the former Sudanese refugee hopes to participate in the canonisation celebrations. “There’s a couple of guys at North Melbourne who are a bit religious and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw them there.” Born in Melbourne in 1842, Mary MacKillop founded the Sisters of St Joseph in South Australia and the first Josephite school in 1866. She died in 1909, aged 67, in a convent in North Sydney. Five years after her death, her remains were relocated to their current site in North Sydney at the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.