ACSS Team Member walks in Mary MacKillop's footsteps


ACSS Team Member Margaret Farrell
ACSS Team Member Margaret Farrell.

Aboriginal Catholic Social Service (ACSS) Team Member Margaret Farrell says she is ‘excited but humbled’ that a Sisters of St Joseph-sponsored trip to Rome for the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop will allow her to briefly walk in the footsteps of Australia’s first saint - but it could easily be argued Margaret’s been treading that path for the last 22 years.

Margaret has helped countless people in her work since joining ACSS (a part of Centacare Catholic Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta) in 1988.

Thanks to the Sisters of St Joseph's sponsorship, Margaret will attend the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome on 17 October, after spending three days visiting Italian landmarks and churches that marked important turning points in the struggles Mary faced in her life.

“I’m so excited…but also feel very humbled to be going and am so appreciative of the Sisters of St Joseph for inviting me,” said Margaret, who is also committee member of the Mary MacKillop Foundation.

“There’s so much we can learn from Mary MacKillop’s own plight and from all the work she did with so many people, including Aboriginal people. It’s going to be amazing to be in Rome to walk in the footsteps of Mary MacKillop for a few days.”

Margaret's work with ACCS encompasses Prison Outreach, scarf workshops, being a co-ordinator for Spirituality Weekends and working as part of the OH&S Committee. She also assists the ACSS Chaplain, Fr Phil Medlin, at Masses, baptisms and other ceremonies.

“For everyone working here at ACSS, it’s all about making people feel welcome, sharing in their yarns and helping them the best way we can,” Margaret said. “This work is its own reward.”

Margaret is also a respected artist in the community, her works reflecting a deep spirituality. There’s little doubt that the memories and experiences of being in Rome for the Canonisation will provide special inspiration for Margaret’s first work post 17 October 2010.

First Australians at first Australian saint Canonisation

According to Sister Mary Mercer of the Sisters of St Joseph, the Sisters believe it is important that Australia’s First People should be involved with the Canonisation of Australia’s first saint.

“We are pleased that at this stage 28 Indigenous Australians have been offered sponsorships to attend the Canonisation in Rome,” Sr Mary said.

“This sponsorship is mainly due to the generosity of Religious Congregation which have donated to enable this to happen. We are hoping that each Diocese will also sponsor an Indigenous person from their local community to attend the Canonisation so that as many First Australians as possible are able to be part of this historic event.”

Final Canonisation Appeal this Sunday 8 August

This Sunday (8 August) is the final Canonisation Appeal for Mary MacKillop, with donation envelopes being sent out to all Parishes in the Diocese.

Proceeds will go towards the planning, logistics and coordination of celebratory events in Rome, the development and distribution of school educational materials, and will assist in involving a contingent of youth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from across all Dioceses to attend the Canonisation in Rome.

Donations can be made at any time leading up to the Canonisation, either online at or by phoning the national call centre on 1800 753 959 – open Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 7pm.

Go to Aboriginal Catholic Social Services

Visit Mary MacKillop Site

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