18 October 2010

Ipswich park named for St Mary MacKillop at Augustine Heights

St Augustine's College students from left, Tatiana Rodas, nine,
Ashlea Ross, nine, Aiden Court, 13, Kirrah Jobst, 10, Taylor Stassen, 10,
and Sophie Walker, 10 at the newly opened park in Augustine Heights
named in honour of St Mary MacKillop.

IPSWICH residents joined the celebration of Australia's first saint by naming a park in her honour yesterday.

Australian pilgrims gathered at St Peter's Square in Rome yesterday to watch Mary MacKillop being officially canonised as a saint by Pope Benedict.

But Ipswich had its own celebration in recognition of the saint's connections to the city at a new park in Augustine Heights – the first naming of a community facility in Australia after the nation's first saint.

MacKillop, now known as Saint Mary of the Cross, established a small Catholic school at Redbank Plains in 1874.

The school was run by the Sisters of St Joseph following a request from the Ipswich Parish Priest Fr Andrew Horan.

The building, which housed the original school at Redbank Plains, was moved to Goodna in 1916 and is now a heritage-listed solicitor's office in Church Street.

The school had closed in 1877 after the student population had dwindled to eight.

Fr Peter Casey Dean of the South-West Deanery and Goodna Parish Priest Fr Roger Burns officially dedicated the new park at Augustine Heights yesterday in honour of Mary MacKillop.

Students from St Augustine's College at Augustine Heights and St Francis Xavier School at Goodna watched on excitedly during the ceremony, which included the release of white doves as an expression of world peace.

Division 2 Councillor Paul Tully said the park was an important tribute to her work in Queensland.

"She was a woman whose dedication to the poor and needy is finally being recognised across the world," Cr Tully said.

"This is an ecumenical service which officially acknowledges Mary MacKillop principally as a great Australian as well as our first saint in Australia's 222-year history."


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