By Laurel Lanner | Posted: Tuesday August 8, 2017
Years ago, I was given a faded, hand-copied diary of a great great grand-father. He had immigrated to Melbourne in the 1850s as a young man. It was hard to read and many entries were fairly tedious reports of things like how much money he lost or won at cards and the head lice issues of the boys he taught, but he also reported social occasions. One of the people he mentioned socialising with was Mary McKillop. It meant nothing to me then and there was nothing in the entry to make it particularly interesting.
Much later, when the beatification of Mary McKillop was in process, I had a nagging sense of familiarity and dug out the diary and found the entries. After some investigation, it turned out the original diary had been used to piece together Mary McKillop’s whereabouts at certain times. The diary entries showed no hint that my ancestor felt he was in the presence of greatness. For him, Mary McKillop was a pleasant but ordinary young woman. She developed into someone who became a recognised saint, establishing the Sisters of St Joseph and working with the poor and isolated people.
When I look around my classes at the young people in front of me, I wonder which of them will become saints – both recognised and unrecognised! Despite popular opinions about youth today, some are well on the path. They are generous, concerned and give up their own wants, time and energy for others. In the youth edition of the catechism it asks, "Are we all supposed to become saints?” The answer is “Yes. The purpose of our lives is to be united with God in love and to correspond entirely to God’s wishes. We should allow God to live his life in us. That is what it means to be holy: a saint.”
Our business as parents and teachers is to enable our young people to develop their holiness. As friends and peers, we can also help each other on the road. We ‘ordinary’ people can become extraordinary, as Mary McKillop showed.
Her feast day is celebrated on 8th August. You can find out more about her here: http://www.marymackillop.org.au/marys-story/beginnings.cfm?loadref=146