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Celebration of Mary: speech at Canonisation vigil, Holy See

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The Hon Kevin Rudd, MP Federal Member for Griffith Minister for Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd speech at Canonisation Vigil - Celebration of Mary

Holy See

16 October 2010

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What a fantastically unruly Australian gathering you are!

Right here in the heart of the Holy See… there will be reports written of this.

I sense however, I sense however that this would be a gathering in which Miss Mary MacKillop would feel very much at home.

I begin by asking all of you, the assembled throng, to put your hands together for the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

The religious life is not an easy one and around the world today we have a thousand or so of these good sisters doing the work of God.

And before them, thousands and thousands since this order began with the work of Mary MacKillop, who will be honoured with canonisation tomorrow,

It is worth reflecting on the contribution of these lives; the lives that have been changed; the lives that have been turned around; the poor being given an opportunity, the young people being given education when there was no hope; people in fast and far flung rural communities of Australia for whom the Sisters of Saint Joseph were the only contact with education, health, with human kindness.

So to you good Sisters can I just say on behalf of all of us who represent Australian national political life: Thank you.

May I ask you to do one other thing as well, and that is to put your hands together to thank Ambassador Tim Fischer for his work here.

I am here tonight representing an all party delegation; we have Julie Bishop the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, please welcome her; also Senator Ursula Stephens from the great state of New South Wales and Senator Barnaby Joyce from the even greater state of Queensland.

And for those other parts of Australia, you’re welcome as well.

I mention Tim because speaking on behalf of all sides of Australian politics, we value the work that he has done here at the Holy See.

I want to tell you as this gathering of Australians and Australian of faith here today that it was my great honour on behalf of the Australian Government this afternoon to officially declare open Australia’s first resident mission to the Holy See.

It’s just across the Tiber and Tim has said free drinks on for everyone after this. He’s paying… suppose that means I’m paying.

Early today Sister Anne gave me that wonderful little book which is Mary MacKillop’s time in Rome, and I took out the book and it reminded me of the relationship which existed between Mary MacKillop and the Jesuits and how the Jesuits had been her particular supporters here in Rome and in obtaining the rule for the order which Mary MacKillop obtained in time from his Holiness the Pope.

Earlier today I visited the Father General of the Society of Jesus and I thanked Father Nicolas for the work of the Jesuits in support of this order as well.

Then delving a little deeply into this little book I’ve been given, I see that on the very first day that Mary MacKillop was in Rome she went to the Gesù church, that’s where I went this afternoon as well.

And it was remarkable sitting there with my friends and colleagues from the Embassy, and sitting there quietly and admiring this extraordinary place of worship and to think that that is where Mary MacKillop sat when she came to Rome in 1873.

And then to go next door and to visit the rooms of St Ignatius of Loyola where also Mary MacKillop went and attended Mass just after her arrival here in Rome.

And as I was sitting there in the room in which Ignatius Loyola left this life, which is now a chapel, I looked around and there was another family from Australia: the Delezio and a very special little girl called Sophie.

You know when one of those serendipitous things just happen, and there we were just sitting together in this extraordinarily spiritual place. I thought to myself here too is a very young girl in Rome reflecting on her future and being inspired by the Blessed Mary MacKillop.

I conclude with this: may God bless the Sisters of Saint Joseph and may God bless and continue to bless our land Australia.