Mary MacKillop’s relatives to visit Rome for her canonization

Brandon Sheehan with his sister and the school principal

Brandon Sheehan with his sister and the school principal

The OLR is a parish primary school in the Our Lady of Rosary parish run by the Salesians. [web master]

Twelve-year-old Catholic school student, Brandon Sheehan, who is a descendant of Mary MacKillop, will travel to Rome to be present for her canonisation as Australia’s first saint on 17 October.

Brandon, a Year 6 student at Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, St Marys and his family, will join a group of more than 50 representatives from the Parramatta Diocese who will make the pilgrimage to attend the canonisation by Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter’s Basilica.

Brandon was selected by Our Lady of the Rosary principal, Mark Geerligs, as one of two students who will represent the diocese on the pilgrimage. Fittingly, Brandon’s school is one of many in the diocese founded by Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph. The second student is Laura Wonton from St Nicholas of Myra Primary, Penrith.

‘To be part of a school that was actually founded by a saint is such a great honour,’ Mark said. ‘We are so pleased that members of our community have the opportunity to participate in this significant occasion, particularly for Brandon and his family,’ said Mark Geerligs, who will travel to Rome for the canonisation.

‘I was so excited when Mr Geerligs called me into his office and told me that I had been selected to go,’ Brandon said. ‘I am very proud to be a relative of Mary MacKillop and to be representing my school.’

Brandon’s father, Mark Sheehan, carries the link to Mary MacKillop. Mark’s 92-year-old grandmother, Elma Davidson, is the oldest living relative of Mary. Elma’s grandmother was Mary’s cousin.

‘We were always keen that someone should represent our family at this special event, but, thanks to the Parramatta diocese, which is covering the costs for myself and Brandon, we were also able to pay for my wife and daughter to share this special experience,’ Mark said.

In preparation for their pilgrimage, Brandon’s family have been busy learning more about their relative. Brandon and his father have twice visited Mary’s tomb at her memorial chapel in North Sydney. Students at Brandon’s school have also been learning about Mary’s life and recently joined other schools in the Parramatta diocese’s to celebrate Mary MacKillop Week. 

Mary MacKillop was born in Melbourne in 1842 after her family migrated to Australia from Scotland. From an early age, Mary dedicated herself to the education of poor children in Australia’s colonies. At the age of 25, Mary founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, an order which continues Mary’s work to this day.


Source: Paramatta Catholic Diocese