Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Matthew, Patron Saint of Investment Advisors

The Calling of St. Matthew PaintingPainting: ‘The Calling of St. Matthew’
Artist: Matthias Stomer (1600-1650) Image Courtesy: Molly/Flickr

(CNA) St. Matthew, the first century ‘Tax Collector’ turned Apostle, chronicled the life and ministry of Christ in his Gospel. While little is known of Sr. Matthew, the account which he wrote about Christ’s Ministry is of inestimable value to Christians, particularly to his verification of Jesus as the Messiah.

The Gospel accounts of St. Mark (Feast Day: 25 April) and St. Luke (Feast Day: 18 October)  like St. Matthew’s own, describe the encounter between Jesus and Matthew: Matthew 9:9-13 under the surprising circumstances of Matthew’s tax-collecting duties. Jewish Publicans who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman authorities of first century Judea were objects of scorn, even hatred among their own communities–since they worked on behalf of the occupying authority, often earning their living by collecting more than the state’s due.

Jesus most likely encountered Matthew near the house of St. Peter (Feast Day: 29 June) in Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee — Matthew’s calling into Jesus’ inner circle, was a dramatic gesture of of the Messiah’s universal message and mission, causing some religious authorities of the Jewish community to ask: “Why does your teacher eat with the tax-collectors and sinners?” —Matthew 9:11 Jesus significant response indicated a central purpose: “For I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” Matthew 9:13; See also: Mark 2:15-17 and Luke 5:29-32

A witness to Christ’s resurrection after death as well as His ascension into Heaven and the events of Pentecost, Matthew also recorded Jesus’ instruction for the Apostles:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” — Matthew 28:19-20

Like 11 of the 12 Apostles, St. Matthew is traditionally thought to have died as a Martyr for Christ, while ministering the Gospel.

There is some disagreement as to the place of St. Matthew’s martyrdom according to EWTN and the kind of torture inflicted upon him, therefore its is not known whether St. Matthew was beheaded, burned or stoned to death.

Both St. Matthew and his Gospel have inspired important works of religious art, ranging from the ornate illuminated pages of the ‘Book of Kells’ to the St. Matthew Passion of J.S. Bach — Three famous paints of Caravaggio, depicting St. Matthew’s calling, inspiration and martyrdom, hanging within the Contarelli Chapel in Rome’s Church of St. Louis of the French.

Reflecting on St. Matthew’s calling, from the pursuit of dishonest financial gain to the heights of holiness and divine inspiration, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “…the persuasive voice of the publican Matthew, who having become an Apostle, continues to proclaim God’s saving mercy to us and let us listen to St. Matthew’s message, meditating upon it ever anew also to learn to stand up and follow Jesus with determination.”

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Cyprian, Martyr for Jesus Christ

St Cyprian

Saint Cyprian 200-258
Image Courtesy: DC-Laus Deo

(EWTN) Cyprian was an African of Noble-birth but of an evil early life, a Pagan and a Teacher of rhetoric until midway through his life, Cyprian converted to Christianity (around 246 according to Britannica) and amazed his friends by making a vow of chastity shortly before his Baptism according to Franciscan Media and within two years, was Ordained a Priest — Cyprian was chosen as Bishop of Carthage (near Tunis) notwithstanding his resistance.

When the Decian persecution broke out (around 250) he fled from his Episcopal See, that he may be better able to minister to the needs of the people but returned when pestilence broke out urging Christians to help everyone according to American Catholic including their enemies and persecutors.

Later he was banished by the Emperor but refused to leave and then recalled from exile for trial a sentence of death was pronounced against him which he received with the words: “Thanks be to God.”

Saint Cyprian ‘courageously faced martyrdom in the midst of his people’ according to Pope Emertius Benedict XIV and beheaded.

More here from Catholic News Agency

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Jeanne Jugan, Founder “Little Sisters of the Poor”

St Jeanne JuganSaint Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879) Image: Catholic Online

(CNA) In his homily for the Canonization of Saint Jeanne Jugan on the 11 October, 2009 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI praised St. Jeanne as a “beacon to guide our societies” adding:

“Jeanne Jugan was concerned with the dignity of her brothers and sisters in humanity whom age had made more vulnerable, recognizing in them the Person of Christ Himself. ‘Look upon the poor with compassion,’ she would say, ‘and Jesus will look kindly upon you on your last day.’ Pope Benedict recalled how Jeanne, “lived the mystery of love, peacefully accepting obscurity…Her charism (good gift that flows from God) is ever timely while so many elderly people are suffering from numerous forms of poverty, solitude and are sometimes abandoned by their families.”

Born in France Brittany, Jeanne grew up during the political and religious upheavals of the French Revolution. Four years following her birth, her father was lost at sea. Jeanne’s mother struggled to provide for Jeanne and her 3 siblings, while also providing them ‘secretly’ with religious instruction amid the ant-Catholic persecutions of the day.

At the age of 15 or 16 Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own family members according to Franciscan Media but also served the poor and elderly people nearby. When Jeanne was 18 and again 6 yrs later, she declined two marriage proposals from the same man, telling her mother, that God had other plans and was calling her to “a work which is not yet founded.”

When Jeanne was 25 yrs old she would join a religious order founded by St. John Eudes (Feast Day: 19 August) Jeanne became a Nurse at the hospital at Le Rosais for six years but later had to resign her position due to health issues, subsequently she became a servant and a friend of a Woman she met through the religious order. They would pray together, visit the poor and taught Catechism to children.

Following Jeanne’s friend’s death, she and two other Women (one an older Woman and a orphaned young lady) carried on a similar life of charity in the city of Saint-Sevran — During 1839 it was a year of economic hardship, Jeanne and the other two Women met Anne Chauvin, an elderly, blind Woman, partially paralyzed and had no one to care for her, she became the first permanent guest of Jeanne and the other two Women.

Soon thereafter Jeanne and her two companions, took in two more elderly Women in need of help and by 1841 Jeanne had rented a room to provide housing for a dozen elderly men and women. — The following year, Jeanne acquired an unused Convent building that could house 40 people.

During the 1840s many other young Women joined Jeanne in her mission of service to the elderly poor, by soliciting charitable gifts by others, Jeanne was able to establish 4 additional homes for the elderly poor by the end of the decade.

By 1850 over 100 Women joined Jeanne’s religious order which today is known as the Little Sisters of the Poor and by 1853 the association numbered 500 Women and had houses as far away as England.

Pope Leo XII would give final approval of the Little Sisters of the Poor constitutions in 1879 which by then had 2,400 houses for the elderly poor. Jeanne would later pass away on this date that same year.

Jeanne was Beatified in 1982 by Pope Saint John Paul II and Canonized in 2009 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Remember the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

Martyrdom St John the BaptistMartyrdom of St. John the Baptist –Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(EWTN) St. John the Baptist was called by God to be the forerunner of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless and improve the extraordinary graces which he had received, he was directed by the Holy Ghost to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness and in the continual exercises of devout prayer and penance, from his infancy until he was 30 yrs of age.

Subsequently this faithful minister began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the weeds of penance, John the Baptist announced to all mankind the obligation they lay under of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere contrition and proclaimed the Messiah–Who was then coming to make His appearance among them.

John the Baptist was received by the people as the true Herald of the Most High God and his voice was as it were, a trumpet sounding from Heaven to summon all mankind to avert the divine judgments and to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of divine mercy that was offered them.

The Roman Emperor Herod Antipas (who bore the title ‘Tetrarch’ meaning Ruler of a Quarter) having in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias. the wife of his brother Philip was was yet living.

John the Baptist boldly reprimanded the Tetrarch Herod and his accomplice for such a scandalous and indecent act of adultery– Herod urged on by his lust and anger cast John the Baptist into prison.

About one year later, Herod gave a lavish party for the nobility of Galilee. Salome, daughter of Herodias (of her lawful husband) pleased Herod by her dancing so much that he promised to grant her whatever she wanted. — Salome consulted with her mother of what to ask for? Herodias instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist and his head be brought to her in a dish.

This most peculiar request even startled the tyrant Herod but he agreed, sending a Soldier of his guard to behead John the Baptist in prison, with an Order to deliver his head in a charger (large dish) and present it to Salome who would later deliver it to her mother — St. Jerome relates that the wrathful Herodias made it her inhuman pastime to prick the sacred tongue bodkin (thick needle) hence, John the Baptist died. The great forerunner of our Blessed Savior a little more than 2 years after his entrance in his public ministry and about a year before the death of our Blessed Redeemer.

More here by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, Patron Saint of Theologians

St Augustine of HippoSaint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Born in Tagaste (modern day Algeria) Augustine was the eldest of three siblings, a brother Nagivius and a sister Perpetua, his father Patritius (or Patricius) was a pagan with a bad temper and had a disdain for anything Christian (he would later in life become a Christian and was Baptized into the Church a year before his death) while his mother Saint Monica (Feast Day: 27 August) was a God-fearing Woman, that believed prayer would change lives and spent many years praying for her family.

Augustine a Christian by the age of 33, Priest by 36 and Bishop by the age of 41 many people know the biographical sketch of Augustine, one time follower of the Manichaeism heresy who later converted and became a Saint but to really get to know this man is a rewarding experience.

There quickly surfaces the intensity how Augustine lived his early years, abandoning his mother, his path in life away from God, later boarding a ship bound for Rome (an event that would serve God’s greater purpose) when Augustine left to become a teacher in the place he was destined to become Catholic and instruction of Saint Ambrose of Milan (Feast Day: 07 December) which turned his life around.

Augustine having earlier in his life being so deeply immersed in a cycle of pride, fathering a child out of wedlock and later disciple of Manichaeism heresy, it isn’t surprising that Augustine should have turned with a holy fierceness against the many demonic thrusts that were rampant in his day, which were truly decadent–politically, socially and morally.

Following Augustine’s conversion and Baptism soon after his mother Saint Monica died with the knowledge that all she had hoped for in this world had been fulfilled, Augustine returned to his hometown of Tagaste, according to Catholic News Agency “having now cast off from himself the cares of the world, he lived for God.”

Augustine would sell off his property donating the proceeds to the poor, founded a Monastery in Hippo where he would become a Priest in 391 according to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and with a few companions began a Monastic life dividing his time in prayer, study and ministry. Four years later Fr. Augustine was Ordained a Bishop, following which he continued to deepen his study in Scripture, texts of the Christian tradition, ministered to the faithful, supported the poor and orphans, supervised the formation of the Clergy together with both the Men and Women Monasteries.

In more than 35 years of Augustine’s Episcopate, he exercised a vast influence in his guidance of the Catholic Church in Roman Africa and more generally in Christianity of his time, coping with religious tendencies and tenacious, disruptive heresies such as Manichaeism, Donatism and Pelaegianism which endangered the Christian faith, in the one God, rich in mercy.

Augustine entrusted himself to God everyday until the very end of his life which came on this date in 430 at the age of 76 as he calmly resigned his spirit to God. — Augustine, a man of tremendous gifts and vital personality, who had piloted the African Church through some of the worlds darkest years, never doubted the ultimate victory of that ‘most Glorious City of God.’

More here and here from EWTN & here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Image: SQPN

(CNA) Born into the nobility in France Burgundy, Bernard was educated at the age of 9 at the renowned school at Chattillon-sur-Seine according to EWTN maintained by the Secular Canons of Saint Vorles — Bernard developed a fondness of literature and devoted himself for sometime to poetry, his success in his studies won him the admiration of his Master and his growth in a virtuous life was no less marked.

In the year 1111 at the age of 20, Bernard left home to join the Monastic community at Citeaux according to Franciscan Media his 5 brothers, 2 uncles and some 30 young friends would follow him into the Monastery. After only 3 years, Bernard was sent with 12 other Monks to establish a new Monastery in the Diocese of Champagne, which became known as the Clairvaux (Valley of Light) he would subsequently lead other Monks there as the Abbot, where he would spend the rest of his life.

Bernard was quite zealous according to Franciscan Media and quite demanding but much more so on himself than others–Following an illness, he learned to be more patient with others and understanding.

The influence as Abbot of Clairvaux was soon felt in Provincial affairs according to EWTN with Bernard defending the rights of the Church against the encroachments of government (we need a St. Bernard of Clairvaux today — Please pray for us! — I digress) more-and-more, he was called away from the Monastery to help to settle long-standing disputes according to Franciscan Media and on more than one occasion, he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome.

Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See–In reply to a letter of warning from Rome, he said that the Good Fathers had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece and if any matters arose that warranted their interest he would be the first to let them know. Shortly thereafter, Bernard became involved in a full blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman Pontiff against the anti-pope.

The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the ‘Second Crusade’ throughout Europe, his eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured however, the ideals of the men and their leaders were not those of Abbott Bernard and the endeavor ended as a complete military and moral disaster which Bernard felt responsible in some way for which hastened his death which came on this date in 1153 at the Clairvaux Abbey in France.

Bernard in his lifetime founded 163 Monasteries according to EWTN in different parts of Europe and wrote a number of books available at these include: Homilies on the Gospel ‘Missus Est’ (1120); Apology to William of St. Thierry, Against the Claims of the Monks of Cluny (1122); De Laudibus Novae Militiae (1129); Book of Precepts and Dispensations (1131) and others.

Canonized in 1170 by Pope Alexander III — In 2009, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux saying of today’s Great Saint:

“For Bernard, in fact, true knowledge of God consisted in a personal, profound experience of Jesus Christ and His love…this is true of every Christian. Faith is first and foremost a personal and intimate encounter with Jesus, it is having an experience of His closeness, His friendship and His love. It is in this way that we learn to know Him even better, to love Him and to follow Him more and more. May this happen to each one of us!

More here on St. Bernard of Clairvaux from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Dominic de Guzman

St Dominic

Saint Dominic de Guzman
Ashmolean Museum

(CNA) Born in Spain Caleruega, Dominic was born into wealthy nobility his parents Felix Guzman and Joanna of Aza (his mother was Beatified in 1828 by Pope Leo XII) as would his brother Mannes (in 1834 by Pope Gregory XVI) who would become a Dominican — Antonio, Dominic’s eldest brother would also become a Priest.

Dominic received his early education from his uncle who was a Priest before entering the University of Palencia where he studied for 10 yrs. In one notable incident from this period, Dominic sold his entire collection of rare books to provide relief for the poor in the city.

Following Dominic’s Ordination into the Priesthood, he was asked by Bishop Diego of Osma, to participate in local Church reforms. — Fr. Dominic de Guzman spent 9 yrs in Osma, pursuing a life of intense prayer before being called to accompany the Bishop on business for King Alfonso IX of Castile in 1203

While traveling to France with the Bishop, Fr. Dominic de Guzman began to think about founding a new religious order to promote the truth. In 1204 he and Bishop Diego, were sent by Pope Innocent III to assist in the effort against the Albigensian’s which eventually involved both military force and theological persuasion. 

In France, Fr. Dominic de Guzman engaged in doctrinal debates and established a Convent whose rule would eventually become a template for the life of Dominican Women, Fr. Dominic de Guzman continued his preaching mission from 1208-1215 during the intensification  of the military campaign against the Albigensian’s.

In 1214  Fr. Dominic de Guzman extreme physical asceticism (self-discipline; abstinence) caused him to fall into a coma, during which the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to him and instructed him to promote the prayer of the Rosary. Its focus on the Incarnation and Life of Christ directly countered the Albigensian attitude towards matters as evil.

During that same year, Fr. Dominic de Guzman returned to Tolouse and obtained the Bishop’s approval of his plan for an order dedicated to preaching. Fr. Dominic de Guzman and a group, gained local recognition as a religious congregation and he accompanied Tolouse Bishop to Rome for an Ecumenical Council in 1215

The Council stressed the Church’s need for better preaching but also set up a barrier to the institution  of new religious orders. Fr. Dominic de Guzman obtained Papal approval of his plan in 1216 and was named as the Pope’s Theologian. — The Order of Preachers expanded in Europe with Papal help in 1218

Fr. Dominic de Guzman spent the last several years of his life building up ‘The Order of Preachers’ while continuing his preaching missions, which it is said it had converted some 100,000 people.

Subsequently following several weeks of illness, Fr. Dominic de Guzman passed away in August 1221 in Italy Bologna and was Canonized in 1234 by Pope Gregory IX

In 2010 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “This great Saint reminds us that in the heart of the Church a missionary fire must always burn. It must be a constant incentive to make the first proclamation of the Gospel and whenever necessary, a new evangelization. Christ in fact, is the most precious good thing that the men and women of every time and every place have the right to know and love and it is comforting to see that in the Church today, there are many pastors and lay faithful alike, members of ancient religious orders and new ecclesial movements who spend their lives joyfully for this supreme ideal, proclaiming and witnessing the Gospel.”

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests

St John VianneySt. John Vianney (1786-1859) –Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(CNA) Born in France Lyons into a farm family, in John’s youthful days he would teach other children their prayers according to SQPN and Catechism.

Ordained a Priest in 1815, he became Curate Ecully and was subsequently sent to the remote community in France Ars (about 20 miles North of Lyon) in 1818 to become their Parish Priest.

Upon his arrival, Fr. John Vianney immediately began praying and working for the conversion of people in his Parish, although he found himself unworthy of his mission as a Pastor, he allowed himself to be consumed by the love of God as he served others.

Fr. John Vianney slowly helped to revive the community’s faith through both his prayers and the witness of his lifestyle–he would deliver powerful Homilies on the mercy and love of God and it is said ‘that even staunch sinners were converted upon hearing him.’ In addition, Fr. Vianney, restored his Church, formed an La Providence Orphanage (which became a home for the most destitute and school for girls from the surrounding region. Many of the girls once grown went on to have religious lives) and cared for the poor.

Fr. Vianney’s reputation as a Confessor grew rapidly and people traveled from all over France to see him in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation — Firmly committed to the conversion of people, he would sometimes spend up to 16 hrs a day in the Confessional.

Situations calling for ‘impossible’ deeds followed Fr. Vianney everywhere according to Franciscan Media and as a Pastor dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, he would encounter people who were indifferent and comfortable with their lifestyles which led Fr. Vianney into praying, fasts and short nights of rest in unfailing humility, gentleness, patience and cheerfulness.

Fr. John Vianney passed away on this date at the age of 73 after serving over 40 years as the Parish Priest of Ars — In 1905 he was Beatified by Pope Saint Pius X and was Canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI

More here from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and here American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Patron Saint of Jesuits & Soldiers

Saint Ignatius of LoyolaSaint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(CNA) Born into a noble family on Christmas Eve in Spain Guipuzcoa, Ignatius served as a Page in the Spanish Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, later becoming a Soldier in the Spanish Army where he would become wounded during the ‘Siege of Pamplona’ in 1521

During Ignatius’ recovery he would read about the ‘Lives of the Saint’s’ and this experience led him to undergo a profound conversion which led him to dedicate his life to Catholicism.

After making a general confession in a Monastery in Montserrat, Ignatius proceeded to spend almost the entirety of the year in solitude and prayer, during which time he would write his famous Spiritual Exercises following which he would make a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land where he worked to convert Muslims to Christianity but could not remain as he had planned according to Franciscan Media because of the hostility of the Turks.

Ignatius would spend the next 11 years in various European universities, finally returning to Spain and then France where he would receive his degree in Theology — While many held him in contempt because of his Holy lifestyle, Ignatius’ wisdom and virtue attracted some followers and ‘The Society of Jesus’ (The Company of Jesus) was born.

In 1540 the ‘Society of Jesus’ received approval by Pope Paul III and it grew rapidly, Ignatius was elected to serve as its first General and became friends with St. Philip Neri (Feast Day: 26 May) During this time despite all that he had to do in the ‘Society’ Ignatius still found time to find homes for Orphans, Catechumens and Penitents. — Ignatius founded the ‘Roman College’ intended to be a model of all other colleges of the ‘Society of Jesus.’

Ignatius’ final years were spent in partial retirement according to EWTN the correspondence inevitable in governing the ‘Society of Jesus’ left him with no time for active ministry which in themselves he much preferred. Ignatius health began failing in his latter years and he was nearly blind by 1556 at the time of his death.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was Beatified in 1609 by Pope Paul V and Canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

On the 22 April, 2006 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI presided over a Eucharistic Celebration for the ‘Society of Jesus’ addressing the Fathers & Brothers of the Society present at the Vatican Basilica , calling to mind the dedication and fidelity of their founder saying:

“Saint Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service first. He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day.

Thus he left his followers a precious spiritual legacy that must not be lost or forgotten. Precisely because he was a man of God, St. Ignatius  was a faithful servant of the Church, in which he saw and venerated the Bride of the Lord and the Mother of Christians and the special vow of obedience to the Pope which he himself describes as ‘our first and principal foundation’ was born from his desire to serve the Church in the most beneficial way possible.”

Today the Jesuits (The Company of Jesus) have more than 500 universities and colleges together with more than 30,000 members that teach more than 200,000 students annually.

More here from American Catholic

Related: Pope Francis Homily on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Mary MacKillop, Australia’s First Saint

St Mary MacKillop

Saint Mary MacKillop (1842-1909)
Image: Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Born in Australia Melbourne, Mary was the eldest child of Alexander and Flora MacKillop poor Scottish immigrants–Alexander had studied for the Priesthood according to SQPN but was never Ordained. Mary was educated in private schools and bu her father. To help support her family which struggled financially, Mary worked as a ‘Nursery Governess’ while in her teens, together with tutoring and teaching–subsequently Mary established a ‘Seminary for Young Ladies’ in her home.

Mary felt called to a religious life but felt obligated to continue Teaching to help support her family, however a scandal caused by a jealous and corrupt education official, caused Mary to resign her teaching position and to leave the school without guilt with the support of her family. –Mary and her sister moved to South Australia Penola, there they met Fr. Julian Tennison-Woods in 1860 who became Mary’s spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of Women, ‘The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart’ (becoming known as the Josephite Sisters) its members were to staff schools, especially for poor children, orphanages and do other charitable work.

As the ‘Josephite Sisters’ grew so did Mary’s problems. Fr. Julian Tennison-Woods proved unreliable in many way and his responsibilities for the direction of the ‘Josephite Sisters’ were removed. Meanwhile, Mary had the support of some local Bishop’s as she and her Sisters went out their work but the Bishop in South Australia, aging and relying on others for advice, briefly excommunicated Mary, charging her with disobedience and dispensed 50 of Mary’s Sisters from their vows. — In truth, the Bishop’s quarrel was about power and who had authority over whom? The Bishop ultimately rescinded his Order of excommunication.

Mary had insisted that the ‘Josephite Sisters’ should be governed by an elected mother answerable to Rome and not to the local Bishop — There was also a dispute whether or not the ‘Josephite Sisters’ should own property. In the end, Rome proved to be Mary’s best source of support. After a long wait, official approval of the ‘Josephite Sisters’ and how it was to be governed came from Pope Leo XIII

Despite Mary’s struggles with Church authorities, she along with her Sisters were able to offer social services that few, if any government agencies in Australia could. The ‘Josephite Sisters’ served both Protestants and Catholics alike. They worked among the indigenous (aborigines) Australians, they taught in schools and orphanages together with serving unmarried mothers.

Finances, or the lack thereof was a continual worry but the Sister’s who sought charity door-to-door, were bolstered by faith and conviction that their struggles were merely opportunities to draw closer to God.

By the time that Mary was approaching the twilight, the ‘Josephite Sisters’ were thriving. Mary passed away in 1909 in Sydney of a stroke. In 1995 Mary was Beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II and was Canonized in 2010 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI becoming the first Saint of Australia.

More here from American Catholic and here from Sisters of St. Joseph