Would it be too much to ask to have a saint with a family
I was raised a tyke in the 60s. The key role models who gave my life direction when I was young were strong men committed to the service of others: Brothers Dacian, Dionysius, Nicholas, Xavier, John (the Baptist), Ronald and Ernest at Marcellin College Randwick.
Cardinal Pell hopes the soon to be sainted Mary Mackillop can be a much needed role model for ordinary Australians today.
I value the lessons I was taught by the religious brothers, and admire the strength and legacy of Mackillop. But I think the average Australian needs different role models: men and women who have stayed faithful to their partner and who have raised their kids to be good citizens whilst coping with the all the challenges of working life.
I think we especially and desperately need some male Saints in this category.
Saints who were real men and who accepted and successfully managed the responsibilities of parenthood and marriage and active citizenship.
Saints who managed not to abandon the kids and the wife for drunken stints with mates, who got work-family balance right and read to their kids and took them to sport, who were not foul-mouthed at home, or at the club, or at work, and men whose kids followed their lead in putting in for the community.
Now I am a bit biased in this matter. I didn’t know my father. I went without one for some time. I didn’t bond with the new step dad, who eventually beat my mother to a pulp and had to be thrown out.
Whilst the Brothers at Marcellin played a role in shaping my values, they didn’t give me any idea how to avoid ending up with a broken marriage and a family in a Housing Commission estate similar to the ones I had experienced. I would have valued a ‘normal’ saint for some inspiration in that regard.
I ‘broke with Rome’ many years ago, and most Australians are not Catholics.
We all want to relate, however, to heroes like Mary Mackillop. It’s just that the most of us get married, have kids and have to work to provide for the family. We can’t just abandon all this in the pursuit of saintly service and perfection, notwithstanding the dubious example of the Buddha who, like the vast majority of Catholic Saints, only managed enlightenment without the burdens of a partner and family.
So if the Catholic Church really wants to rebuild its brand and inspire Australians with modern role models, canonising one or two married women or men would be most helpful and very timely. Could that be our Christmas present from the Church next year?
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