Parishioners of St John Vianney Morisset warmly welcomed thirteen Sisters of St Joseph at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Church, Cooranbong, for morning tea, a history talk and some quiet reflective time. They had come from afar - Tasmania, NSW, Qld, SA and NZ on their NSW Pilgrimage, “In the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop and Tenison Woods”, travelling in two buses from Sydney, via Kincumber to Cooranbong, then Newcastle and completing their trip at Lochinvar.
The humble little historic church at Cooranbong is a particular site on their NSW Pilgrimage where they were able to reflect on the presence of ten Sisters of St Joseph who lived in a convent along Mathew Valley Road. The Sisters taught at the then timber church that opened in 1861 as a Mass centre on weekends and as the Non-Vested National School for all local children in Cooranbong, during the years 1880 to 1896.
And importantly, this Pilgrimage commemorates the visits of ‘Mother’ Mary MacKillop in 1894 and 1895, and her attendance at Mass.
With amazing insight, all came to appreciate and wonder at the distances travelled by early clergy and religious in outer regions of the early Colony, some 43 miles (69 kilometres) and, as recorded in Freeman’s Journal, often the return ride on horseback on the same day!
SJV Parish has been busy envisioning a celebration to mark the exact day Mother Mary MacKillop attended Mass, and the erection and dedication of a suitable memorial, external to the church building, for the 120th anniversary in 2015.
So, save the date - Mass, celebration and dedication, Cooranbong, Tuesday 19 May 2015! Details when arranged will be posted on parish website and publicised.