(used with permission - Sisters of St. Joseph)
Mary was an Australian woman, of Scottish descent, born in Melbourne in 1842.As a young woman she became concerned that so many children in rural Australia could not afford to be educated. Mary knew that education was a key to freedom and that it was unfair that so many children should be denied access to education.
She also knew that God's love was the greatest freedom of all, and that through the right sort of education children could come to learn about God's love.
Together with her friend, Fr Julian Tennison Woods, she developed a plan for starting up schools for children caught in the poverty trap. Her dream was to tap their human potential and draw them closer to Jesus Christ.She gathered other like-minded girls and young women and put her plan into action. These women became the community of religious sisters known as the Sisters of St. Joseph.Their work had marvellous results. But it also aroused opposition. Like Jesus, Mary was persecuted and criticised. Sometimes by malicious gossip in the press. Sometimes by her own friends. Sometimes by people in high places.
At one point, a bishop wrongfully excommunicated her! Mary and her companions were shattered. But they patiently endured the ordeal and after six months the bishop realised his mistake and withdrew the excommunication.
We honour Mary MacKillop because she was a courageous Australian who, at great cost to herself, followed her dream to spread the Good News to the children of Australia.
Source: Antioch youth leaders' outlines (National Antioch 1995) with thanks to our Parish St Mary MacKillop, Birkdale