Award honours saint with identity crisis!

The Council for Australian Catholic Women (CACW) in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is pleased to announce the inaugural Magdalene Award. The Award was launched at the Day of Reflection at Broadmeadow in July.

Chair of the CACW contact group, Patricia Banister, said, “The Magdalene Award will recognise a woman living in and committed to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. It is a public affirmation of a life being lived in ways that reflect the gospel values of mercy, justice, peace and compassion.”

The Magdalene Award honours St Mary Magdalene, often called the ‘apostle to the apostles’. Mary exemplified courage, leadership, fidelity and strength. She has often been a victim of ‘mistaken identity’, and so the experience of contemporary Church women whose contribution is limited by Church law would resonate with her.

St Mary Magdalene’s feast is celebrated on 22 July and a decree, dated 3 June and issued on 10 June by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, raised the obligatory memorial of St Mary Magdalene to the dignity of a feast. The Congregation has published a new Latin preface for the feast that will be translated into other languages. The decree states that in our times, the Church is called to a more profound reflection “on the dignity of women, the new evangelisation and the abundance of the mystery of divine mercy”, all of which are manifest in the life of the saint. St Mary Magdalene has been described by St Thomas Aquinas and others as the “apostle to the apostles” - and is now commemorated with a liturgical feast.

As Kathleen Murphy writes, “Excluding his mother, the leading disciple, and the one who appears to have been closest to Jesus not just during his ministry but on the cross, too, was Mary Magdalene. The fact that she was free to follow Jesus consistently indicates that she was a single woman who had few home duties and that she was of comfortable means….Mary is not to be confused with Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus’ head in anticipation of his impending passion, death and rushed burial…. A careful study of Scripture shows Mary Magdalene to be a woman of exemplary character, courage, mercy, faith and unswerving fidelity….She was a risk-taker and a woman of mercy, and in mercy she fearlessly stood at the foot of the cross…. She, not Peter or John, provides continuity from Galilee to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Calvary, from Calvary to the tomb to a resurrected and glorified figure in the garden.” (The Women of the Passion Kathleen M Murphy St Paul’s Publishing 2005). 

Nominations can be received from any member of the diocesan community, and must be submitted with the permission of the nominee. Nomination forms can be downloaded from the diocesan site or obtained from Alyson Segrott, PO Box 756, Newcastle 2300, E

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Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.

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