In recent times too, Popes such as John Paul II, Benedict and Francis have canonised many new saints after years of careful scrutiny of their lives. In 2010 Australia’s first saint was proclaimed, St Mary of the Cross, Mary McKillop. The human qualities of these great people, modelled on the life of Jesus, stand as a guide for each of us in a world currently torn by conflict and division.
Secular Australia too has an extensive list of people known as ‘National Treasures’. Dame Marie Bashir the former Governor of NSW is one of them. She was present at many of our Gold Duke of Edinburgh award ceremonies in her role as Governor and spoke very positively about Australia’s future with the young Brigidine women who accepted the award from her. Her poise, her strength and her intelligence as a leader are greatly remembered and our College community was honored with her presence at the opening of the Anita Murray Centre in 2012.
Raelene Boyle is another who is on the list. An exceptional track athlete who won many silver medals at the Olympics and numerous Commonwealth Games medals, she was known for her courage, strength and persistence. She faced the challenges of running against athletes during the Cold War period in a time prior to the monitoring of performance enhancing drugs. In 1982 after a disrupted Olympics in 1980, she won gold in the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in the 400m. A woman of strength and courage who always gave her best.
Whether we focus on other great Australian role models like St Mary McKillop or people like Fred Hollows, Nancy Walton, Edward Dunlop, Faith Bandler and others, what we are doing is focusing on human qualities. Qualities needed in our troubled world today. Qualities we hope our students can focus on and develop during their time at Brigidine.
Megan Cassidy-Welch writes –
I wonder if the qualities that continue to be emphasised in individuals we revere are not so different from the qualities that medieval villagers saw as remarkable all those centuries ago. We continue to value courage, selflessness, care of others, and triumph over adversity. For some, these are spiritual qualities, for others they are moral virtues to which all humans can hope to attain…these qualities .. will always have value in our contemporary culture, just as they did in the deeper historical past.
In the month of November, we should all take some time to read and learn more about the remarkable lives of saints and significant people. The inspiration they provide for each of us can lead us to being our best self and emulating the qualities that these people possessed in their own lives. If we focus on the best of human qualities and the best of human nature, we will see our way through this time of conflict and crisis in our world today. The Saints we celebrate on All Saints Day and the National Treasures we hold in great honour and affection, guide us in our own lives and inspire us all.