This year is the 10-year anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Mary of the Cross, Australia’s first Saint. At Mary MacKillop Today, we are reflecting on the qualities and actions that set Mary apart, and how her legacy continues to be relevant today.
Mary MacKillop was an ordinary woman with an extraordinary dream and a big heart.
Her dream was to give the poorest families and most neglected children access to education and safe shelter by opening schools. This dream became reality in 1866 when, together with Father Tenison Woods, Mary set up the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites). This was the first religious order to be founded by an Australian, and a woman at that.
As a passionate educator, Mary broke through the prejudice of the early 19th century to educate all—regardless of gender, race, faith, or wealth—while ministering to the vulnerable with compassion.
She and the Sisters of St Joseph went wherever the need was greatest. They gave up everything to live and teach amongst the people they served.
Today, 10 years on from the recognition of Mary MacKillop’s holy work, we continue to find hope in her values, character, and actions as a remarkably strong female leader.
Right now, in such uncertain and difficult times, we can look to Mary for what it means to persevere. She herself faced fierce opposition throughout her life from people who sought to block her ministry.
In the face of trials, Mary persistently stood by her convictions – while also modelling forgiveness, insisting no ill be spoken of those who wronged her. She showed us how to be courageous in serving others and said, “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
The dedication and determination of Mary and the Sisters helped significantly shape the access for all to education in Australia today.
Mary believed in the power of education to lift communities out of poverty, famously saying, “I’m a teacher, let’s start today!” And like Mary, we here at Mary MacKillop Today still believe education is the key to improving the lives of vulnerable people, both here in Australia and overseas.
We see the growing legacy of Australia’s first Saint written in the hearts and minds of people, not only in Australia but around the world. Mary MacKillop is a role model for all who believe in serving the most vulnerable and neglected.
Mary is indeed a woman for today! We can certainly learn a lot from her experiences for our own daily lives. Our prayer is that we always aspire to her values and emulate her spirit. As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Mary’s canonisation, let us all be reminded to take action and make a difference.
To register to receive your commemorative prayer book, please click here.