St John Paul II and St Mary MacKillop feature strongly in the Harvest story since it began over three decades ago. Harvest Journeys is proud to dedicate its work for God, under the patronage of these two great saints.
Pilgrimage is an important ministry giving people the opportunity to encounter the sacred whilst travelling and grow in their relationship with God. We place all Harvest pilgrims, those who travel internationally and domestically, under the intercession and protection of St John Paul II and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop for safe passage, meaningful encounters, and faith renewal.
John Paul II became known as the pilgrim Pope because he was the most travelled Pope in history, visiting more countries during his Papacy than any of his predecessors. He was also the father of the World Youth Days, calling the young people of the world to meet together with him for the first time in 1985 in Rome. The international WYDs have been a primary focus of Harvest’s work for 30 years and have impacted a generation of young people from around the world. Thousands of Australians have travelled to the World Youth Days and Sydney hosted WYD in 2008.
John Paul II also beatified or canonised many saints connected to pilgrimage shrines that feature on Harvest itineraries, such as Francisco and Jacinta (Fatima), Juan Diego (Guadalupe), Sr Faustina (Divine Mercy, Krakow), Edith Stein and Maximillian Kolbe (Auschwitz), Padre Pio (Pietrelcina), Pope John XXIII (Rome), Josemaria Escriva (Rome), and Mary MacKillop (North Sydney, Penola). John Paul II also visited Australia several times, is remembered for his historic address in Alice Springs in 1986 to the Indigenous people of Australia, and for the beatification of Mary MacKillop in Sydney in 1995.
Australia’s first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop was herself a pilgrim on many occasions as she travelled the length and breadth of our country (often on horseback!) with a mission to serve and educate the poor. She also travelled to Rome by ship to seek Papal approval for the founding of the Sisters of St Joseph. Mary MacKillop’s love for Australia and its people, including its Indigenous communities, is written in the schools she built, the churches she visited, the paths she walked throughout Australia and the impact of the Sisters of St Joseph that endures to the present day.
In 2010, Harvest coordinated Australia’s delegation of over two thousand pilgrims to Rome for the canonisation of Mary MacKillop by Pope Benedict XVI. This historic moment for the Church in Australia was characterised by celebration, joy and hope, and captured the imagination of the nation. Written in marble across Mary’s tomb at her shrine in North Sydney are her words “Remember we are but travellers here”, reminding us all we are pilgrims on this earth with our hearts set on a heavenly destination.
St John Paul II and St Mary MacKillop, pray for us!
Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”