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A selection of books on Christian Spirituality

By: 'Gerard Moore' - 11th of November 2011

This is the sort of book that Sydney needs. The religious geography of the city has been underplayed, and mainly left in the hands of historians. It is a good time for pilgrims to emerge and make the streetscape their own. Jeanette Fox’s guided pilgrimage of Mary MacKillop in The Rocks is a good example of what is there to be discovered, uncovered and recovered.

The work is a short, easily held, tour of the Rocks through the eyes of the mission of the Sisters of St Joseph and their sainted founder. Not all the buildings are still extant, though the places are easily recognized. Still, even the renovated locations carry a story of care, social calamity, health alerts, pastoral work, and forthright women. The author has woven significant women into the narrative, allowing the focus to fall on the group on mission, rather than too cloying an involvement with Mary herself. Each stop on the way, ‘station’ perhaps, is accompanied by pictures, historical information and reflections. There is also a map of the area. As well, a pages are dedicated for further reading (could be a few more titles added now such as Pauline Wicks God Will Take Care of Us), a chronology and an appendix featuring St John’s Church School in Kent St, a bit removed from this pilgrimage path but integral to the work of the sisters. Interestingly the origins and early works of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia also find themselves in the cartographers ambit.

The booklet is set as one in a series. This promises well. A revision of this particular pilgrimage might offer pilgrims a bit more on St Patricks Church and enfold the reflections in more of the writings of Mary or other sisters from that period who were part of the Rocks evangelization. Another ‘passage’ waiting to be written could take walkers from the St Mary’s Cathedral, to St Patricks, then across the Bridge to the grave of the saint, crisscrossing this meditation, and returning to the city some of its layers of faith lived and breathed.


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