Mary MacKillop (1842-1909)
Australia’s first canonized saint founded many schools and orphanages . . .
Feast Day: August 8
Canonized: October 17, 2010
Australia’s only canonized saint, Mary MacKillop strove to tame her country’s spiritual and material poverty. She was the eldest of eight children born to Catholic parents from Scotland.
In the MacKillops’ poor but cheerful Christian farmhouse, her parents fostered their vocations: Two of the boys became priests, and Mary and her sister Lexie founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. They built orphanages and schools throughout southeastern Australia and then expanded into New Zealand.
Mary persisted through many early setbacks — plus chronic rheumatism and a stroke that paralyzed her right side — until her death. Sydney’s archbishop gave her the Last Rites and exclaimed, “I consider this day to have assisted at the deathbed of a saint.”
At her canonization, Sydney Cardinal George Pell noted: “Two quotations from her writings help explain her life’s work. Her sisters, as St. Joseph’s true children, were to ‘seek first the poorest, most neglected parts of God’s vineyard,’ while probably her most famous exhortation was that the sisters were ‘never (to) see an evil without trying to discover how they may remedy it.’”