Australia will have its first Catholic saint in the person of Mary MacKillop, a Sister of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Mother MacKillop founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, a religious community that has ministered across Australia and New Zealand, including building dozens of schools for impoverished children in the Australian Outback in the 1800s. They are also committed to “care for the homeless and destitute both young and old, and Refuges for ex-prisoners and ex-prostitutes who wished to make a fresh start in life.” (source: Sisters’ website)

Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop is not only a saint for Catholics but she is a saint for Australia. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd noted that her canonization is “a great, great tribute to her hard work in education” and “a great honor for Australia.” (source: Associated Press) She is even featured on a one dollar coin, the first of the Royal Australian Mint’s series featuring inspirational Australians.

This saint, like many saints before her, took her religious vows seriously and followed God even when it meant challenging the Church that she loved dearly. “She was a strong-willed advocate who sometimes got into trouble for challenging orthodox thinking within the male-dominated church. In 1869 she was excommunicated for inciting her followers to disobedience, though the bishop who punished her recanted three years later and she was exonerated by a church commission.” (source: Associated Press)

The Sisters themselves note, “Throughout her life, Mary met with opposition from people outside the Church and even from some of those within it. In the most difficult of times she consistently refused to attack those who wrongly accused her and undermined her work, but continued in the way she believed God was calling her and was always ready to forgive those who wronged her.” (source: Sisters’ website)

Blessed Mary MacKillop is, even today, “an example of great courage and trust in her living out of God’s loving and compassionate care of those in need.”

Mary MacKillop will be canonized on October 17, 2010, in Rome. The process of canonization is an expensive one, so please, keep the sisters in mind and consider donating funds to them.

Congratulations to the Sisters of Saint Joseph and all women religious, to Australia, to the Catholic Church, and to all whom Mary MacKillop inspired and will continue to inspire.