A throng of Christians from across the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn descended upon Eden on Saturday as part of a large pilgrimage of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse led the pilgrimage from St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra as about 300 people packed out Our Lady Star of the Sea Church to celebrate Australia’s patron saint.
A long mass service, which included a passionate homily from Archbishop Prowse, was followed by a barbecue lunch overlooking the beautiful surrounds.
Speaking to the Magnet, Archbishop Prowse said Eden was beautifully poised to find itself as an intersection of a number of worlds.
“One world is its natural beauty, absolutely beautiful. The second world is . . . a spirituality centre, particularly for Catholics but all Christians, who have a devotion to our first Australian saint,” he said.
”Mary MacKillop never forgot the generosity and love and reverence of the people of Eden to her mother.”
Mary MacKillop's mother, Flora, drowned at sea in the Ly-ee Moon in 1886, near Green Cape, before her body was recovered and tended to in Eden.
In his homily, Archbishop Prowse said as Catholics “we are not withdrawing, we are moving in”.
Speaking after the service, he said Catholics are having a very difficult time in Australia.
“I’m thinking of the Royal Commission (into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse), I’m thinking about the secularisation of Australia, which they tend to put religious belief on the periphery and think other things are more important,” Archbishop Prowse said.
“It’s difficult, but nonetheless we’re not circling the wagons . . . we’re trying our very best and going forward with a great deal of hope and a great deal of energy to be able to tap more deeply (into) the human spirit, which incorporates a spiritual dimension.
“Hopefully this place (Eden) will be able to bring it all together.”
He also noted the importance of the Aboriginal history and future in Eden, as well as the diversity of people attending Saturday’s service.
“I was celebrating the mass and, looking down at the congregation, I could see a lot of elderly people, mainly from a European background. But then I could see . . . the new Australians we might call them, people from all over the world,” Archbishop Prowse said.
Migrant groups from the Philippines, India and other countries took part in the pilgrimage from Canberra, as well as students and staff from St Mary MacKillop College, Tuggeranong.