On 8 August 1909, Australian nun (now Saint) Mary MacKillop died at the Josephite convent in North Sydney. Since her canonisation (becoming a Saint) on 17 October 2010 – by Pope Benedict XVI at Vatican City in the presence of around 8,000 Australians – 8 August has become her Feast Day where Catholics celebrate her life, great deeds, miracles and passing to heaven.
Whilst born in Melbourne (Fitzroy, 15 January 1842), MacKillop spent much of her adult life in South Australia (SA) – the base from which her best known activities were performed and legacies established.
MacKillop’s most notable legacy would be the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), which she co-founded with the Reverend Julian Tenison Woods. Over the subsequent decades, through her hard work, dedication and leadership (right to her death in 1909), this congregation of religious sisters established myriad schools and welfare institutions throughout Australia and NZ. Its schools focus was on educating the rural poor whereas its community welfare pursuits included orphanages, neglected children, girls in danger, hospices and homes for the aged and poor. It also established a network of Mary MacKillop Colleges across Australia – noted for their affordable, faith-based schooling and fine development of children.
MacKillop’s two miracles to become a saint included:
- in 1961, a dying leukaemia sufferer recognised by the Church as being cured by praying for MacKillop’s intercession, and
- in 2009, a dying lung and brain cancer sufferer similarly recognised/cured.
Celebrate the life and Feast Day of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop – Australia’s first and only saint – by:
- if you are near Sydney, visiting Mary MacKillop Place or taking a ride on the harbour (Supercat) ferry named Saint Mary MacKillop
- if you are near Penola (south-east SA), visiting the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre (the SA country town where it all began)
- attending a local observance or celebration this week
- downloading and watching the 1994 film, Mary
- familiarising yourself with the great trans-Tasman legacy in schooling and community welfare of Saint Mary MacKillop and her Josephites, and/or
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, observers of faith and those that have benefitted from, and/or still see great value in, the work, spirit, guidance and community service of the Church and its institutions.
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