Volunteers at Mary MacKillop Place
1 May 2017 | General Interest
The decision to redesign the Mount Street site to include a museum that would be ready for Pope John Paul II to visit as part of Mary of the Cross MacKillop’s Beatification in 1995 is the source of the formal volunteering at Mary MacKillop Place.
In the months prior to beatification and the opening of the museum, a dedicated band gathered to make preparations for the celebration. Such was the enthusiasm that in 1994 and 1995, one hundred and thirty three people from all walks of life joined the Volunteers Team (VTeam). We are fortunate that we still have a few of our original VTeam who, even though ageing, are able continue to be of service to those who wish to know about Australia’s first saint.
The original volunteers were part of the main people connected to the Sisters of St Joseph. Past pupils, colleagues or parents of children taught by the Sisters. We also had several parishioners from the nearby parishes.
Over the years this has changed. Our volunteers still, on the whole have a connection to St Mary of the Cross, via the Sisters, but we now draw a variety of people from many recent arrivals to Australia who desire ways of expressing their faith through service. Listening to their stories, hearing their experiences of our generous God, and their desire to give back for the blessings received makes one feel humble and challenged.
What do our volunteers do now in 2017 one may ask?
We still have the museum to which visitors from all over Australia and the rest of the world come to visit. We have school groups, students and staff visiting to depth their knowledge and spiritual understanding of St Mary of the Cross. To assist here we have guides who have trained to take visitors through the galleries and to tell the story.
We also have volunteers who work in the café, giving hospitality and care to our visitors. Interestingly, some of these volunteers work Monday to Friday and volunteer once or twice on a weekend each month.
We also have some who come to spend time in the chapel, or in the Pastoral Care office, to be a listening ear to those struggling with some need. It is this area that we are able to assist the seekers of novenas and those who are simply needing someone with whom to talk.
Over the years volunteers have been asked, ‘Why do you volunteer here?’ The answer is often;
“I love Mary MacKillop and want people to know about her”, or
"I want to do what I can to help the Sisters” or
“I just need to give back to the community for what I have received” or
“I receive more than I give” or
“I have made such wonderful friends on the VTeam, I miss them when I’m unable to come”.
In all these answers, we see that our volunteers are ‘other centred’ and really living the call of the Gospel to be the face of Christ in our world.
Niesha Allport rsj