May is a time to honour Mary and all Mothers

In the Catholic tradition, the month of May is a time when the Church celebrates and acknowledges the significant role Mary played as the mother of Jesus. For the secular world, it is also that time of year when motherhood is celebrated through the annual event known as ‘Mother’s Day’.

When the Church released the Papal Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, in December 2005, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI used it as an opportunity to highlight Mary’s giftedness to the Church and the world at large.

Mary’s “greatness”, he went on to explain, was that she “wants to magnify the God, not herself. She is lowly: her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord.”

To prepare this reflection on motherhood, and the upcoming Mother’s Day, I asked a couple of Mums who work in or for the diocese to share with me their experiences of motherhood and the relationship they have with their children.

Karli Chenery, who works in the Religious Education team developing curriculum resources, said she made a conscious decision to be intentional about showing affection to her two daughters, Charlotte (16) and Leila (8).

“We are very demonstrative with each other in our family,” Karli said. “We are huggers, we are kissers, we are criers.”

With a smile, she adds: “We don’t leave our house without kisses and saying goodbye…walking through the shopping centre, my 16-year-old still reaches out to hold my hand.”

Her daughter's being able to call on her for support is something that is vitally important to Karli. It is not dissimilar to the significance of Mary’s place in the life of the Church, with her intercession being sought for a large spectrum of human needs in various circumstances.

As well, Mary is someone who can “show us Jesus, lead us to Him and teach us to know and love Him”, according to Pope Benedict.

For Louise Campbell, an Educational Officer in the area of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Education and Wellbeing, the significance of showing, leading and teaching others is fundamental to the role played by herself and fellow Indigenous women within their community.

“As an Aboriginal mother, my sisters and I are part of a bigger, motherly circle and we support all those who are seen as our children, including those in the generation below us and those below them.

“We support Women’s Business, we support rituals and ceremonies, we take that thinking into the bigger picture of things…we are supported by our grandmothers, if they are around.”

Recalling her own upbringing, Louise shared how she “sat at the feet” of her great-grandmother. “We listened to the stories when it was their time to have a particular Yarn.”

The legacy of her relationship with her own mother, Jennifer, who died four years ago after a short but devastating illness, also had a significant impact on Karli.

“It was a shock the first time my mum said ‘I love you’ on the phone – my sister and I always knew that she loved us but I just knew that I always wanted to be a little more overt in my role as a mother and show my kids that it is OK to be physically affectionate.”

Another lesson she hopes to pass on to her daughters is a chance to “encounter Christ”.

“We go camping a lot as a family, and in those moments, I hope they will see God when we are out in nature,” she said.

“Sometimes, Leila will see an occasion, such as a bird landing on her chair, as God looking at her…she calls rainbows and the light coming through the clouds as ‘the fingers of God touching the Earth and touching people’.”

Both Louise and Karli are mindful that their maternal roles mean they have a chance, and even an obligation, to significantly influence those in their care and sphere of influence.

For Louise, this opportunity is shaped by her Christian faith and, more significantly, her Aboriginal heritage and upbringing.

“I understand Christian spirituality, but the Aboriginal spirituality, the knowing and the doing, that has been super [important]…” she said.

Both Karli and Louise attest to the joys and inherent challenges of motherhood.

“The love that you have for your children is next level,” said Karli. “You can’t compare it with any other love.”

Catholic Mission has a variety of mission projects that can be supported as a unique gift for Mother’s Day. By purchasing from the Life-Giving Gifts catalogue for Mother’s Day you are not only showing the mother or special woman in your life how much you care for them, but you are also making an incredible difference for those in need. Check out

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