Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Celebrating Australia’s first saint

The Government is supporting Australians to participate in the celebrations for the canonisation of our first saint, Mary MacKillop, and recognising the lifelong charitable work of Mary MacKillop through support for the Foundation in her honour.

The canonisation of Mary MacKillop as Australia’s first Saint is a unique event, and an occasion to be celebrated by all Australians, in particular the more than five million Australians of Catholic faith.

Mary MacKillop was an outstanding Australian who devoted her life to advancing the cause of social justice and providing educational opportunities to children who otherwise had little hope of receiving a formal education.

The Australian Government has provided $1.5 million to the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart to help Australian’s join in the celebrations, and to support the Mary MacKillop Foundation.

The funding will be used to fly a contingent of 28 young Australians and 28 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to Rome to participate in the ceremony.

Information packages for around 8,000 Australians attending official ceremonies and celebratory events in Rome have also been produced with the Government’s assistance.

The funding will also support celebrations at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney.

Around $700,000 of the $1.5 million will be provided to the Mary MacKillop Foundation to provide 40 tertiary scholarships for Indigenous Australians, and around 40 small community projects, focused on rural and isolated communities, indigenous groups and people with disabilities, in recognition of the legacy of Mary MacKillop’s lifelong service to people most in need.

The Government will also provide special legislative protection to control the use of names associated with Mary MacKillop. We will amend the Corporations Regulations 2001 so that requests for use of a company name that suggest a connection to Mary MacKillop are prevented, unless Ministerial approval is granted.

We have also ensured that all donations of $2 or more received by the Mary MacKillop Place Trust will be fully tax deductible and go directly toward supporting activities associated with the canonisation ceremony. This will include events both in Rome and Australia, with deductible gift recipient status extended through to 30 June 2011.

I encourage all Australians to come together and celebrate the canonisation of Australia’s first saint, an exceptional figure in our country’s history.