Mary MacKillop and André Bessette to be recognized as saints

Posted by Patrice Tuohy
Thursday 25, February 2010 | Category:   Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

On Oct. 17 Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Blessed Mary MacKillop, making her Australia's first saint, and Canadian Blessed André Bessette, who will be the first saint of the Holy Cross Brothers.

Mother Mary MacKillop

Mother Mary MacKillop, an Australian, founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866 with the help of English priest Julian Tenison Woods. From the order's inception, the sisters, commonly known as the Josephites, lived among the people they served and provided education and support for the children and families living in remote rural and urban areas. This commitment to follow laborers and their families to isolated communities often without regular access to the sacraments was initially condemned by local church officials. MacKillop was briefly excommunicated but three years later the bishop who punished her recanted and she was exonerated.

MacKillop died in 1909 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

There are now about 1,000 Josephite sisters living and ministering throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as Ireland, Peru, East Timor, Scotland, and Brazil.

Bl. André Bessette
Holy Cross Brother André Bessette, like MacKillop, struggled to have his mission and ministry recognized. Because of his frail health and poor education, the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal initially rejected his request to enter the brothers' community. However, following a personal appeal from the archbishop of Montreal, Andre was accepted into the novitiate and made final vows in 1874 at age 28. He became the porter for the community's novitiate, the College of Notre Dame, a position he maintained for 40 years. He once joked, "When I joined the community, the superiors showed me the door."

Bessette spent his day greeting visitors to the novitiate and his evenings visiting the sick in the surrounding neighborhoods. He became known as a miracle-worker, which he ascribed to the healing power of Saint Joseph, and thousands began seeking his counsel and prayers. His devotion to Saint Joseph led him to start a campaign to build a shrine dedicated to the saint. Construction of the Oratory of St. Joseph began in 1924. Bessette died in 1937 and his remains are buried beneath the main chapel of the Oratory. It was reported that 1 million people filed past his coffin.


Others to be made saints on Oct. 17 according to Catholic News Service:

-- Blessed Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk (1433-1489), a Polish-born member of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, famous as a preacher and confessor.

-- Blessed Juana Josefa Cipitria Barriola of Spain (d. 1912), founded the Daughters of Jesus.

-- Blessed Giulia Salzano of Italy (d. 1929), founder of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

-- Blessed Camilla Battista Varano (1448-1524), founder of several Poor Clare communities in Italy.

Sainthood was also approved for Stanislaw Soltys, a 15th-century Polish priest; Italian nuns Giulia Salzano and Battista Varano; and Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola.

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