In celebration of Mary’s Feast Day on 8th August, our CEO Jane Woolford reflects on her recent travels to see Mary’s legacy alive today.
I am truly inspired by the extraordinary ‘can help’ spirit of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph as they travelled to set up schools in Australia’s remote communities.
But Mary’s work isn’t finished. Many children and adults are still unable to break the cycle of poverty because they can’t access education. And with your help, we can continue Mary’s mission.
I recently travelled to Fiji where I had the chance to experience some of the vital work you make possible. I ventured out to visit a beautiful village on the banks of where two rivers meet. Friendly people wearing brightly coloured clothes greeted me with handmade garlands to put around my neck as small children played around us. It was such a happy place! But it was also a place in need.
Women in remote villages often miss out on the chance to be educated, and to make an income. I met with a group of women who had recently completed Mary MacKillop Today’s women’s leadership training. They were so excited to choose their area of livelihood, and many were already building their own businesses to serve the community. One woman told me how the program provided her with a freezer so she could earn an income by giving families a place to store their fish.
Leadership skills are an incredible way for women to grow in self-esteem — becoming less likely to experience discrimination and violence. And more likely to become confident contributors to the community with the ability to achieve something for themselves and their families.
While I was in Fiji, I also went to see our Mobile Kindy run by our local partner in ‘informal settlement’ areas. Families from remote islands often migrate to the city hoping for a better life and end up living in a state of transition on others’ land. They’re squeezed into makeshift homes, going without basics like clean water. The school itself is a small, simple structure. But inside is another story. I stepped into a vibrant classroom full of happy children, clapping and singing their rhyming songs. This kindy is crucial because, without it, these children may miss out on any sort of early learning — making it very difficult for them to start formal school later on.
These are just a few examples of what your support looks like ‘on the ground’ helping people to flourish. For Saint Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day on 8th August, I encourage you to reflect on her words, “Find happiness in making others happy.” Let us experience the spirit of Australia’s first saint ourselves by giving with cheerful hearts in honour of Mary’s Feast Day.
August is a special month to consider the impact Mary made and the place she still has in the lives of so many. Our work is only possible because of generous supporters like you. Please donate today to support more communities in need, just like the ones I visited in Fiji. Thank you!
Chief Executive Officer, Mary MacKillop Today