This trailblazer in Australia's outback needed all her trust in God, and all her wits about her.
During the celebration of World Youth Day in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI brought to light Australia’s one and only recognized saint, St. Mary MacKillop, and highlighted her example of holiness.
Born in Melbourne in 1842, Mary Helen MacKillop became a trailblazer in the outback of Australia. She was drawn to the religious life at a young age, but there did not exist any women’s religious order in Australia. With the help of a local priest, she founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart with the intention of ministering to the needs of poor children and performing other works of charity.
She died in 1909, and was canonized in 2010.
St. Mary MacKillop had to fight many battles, often from within the Church as she sought approval of her rule. But her deep faith was combined with a simple practicality, leading her to encourage others with such advice as
“No duty is too little to be done well” and
“God understands us better than we understand ourselves or each other.”
In this year of St. Joseph, we can recall how St. John Paul II, at her beatification, saw significance in her choice of name for the congregation:
It is significant that Mother Mary MacKillop gave to her Congregation [the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart] the name of Saint Joseph, one who committed his whole being and life to God’s loving Providence. Joseph of Nazareth was a man of boundless trust. Only in this way was he able to live out the unique calling he had received from God, to become the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the guardian of God’s own Son. In the history of the Church Saint Joseph has always been a special model of holiness.
Without a doubt, in giving Saint Joseph’s name to her Congregation, Blessed Mary MacKillop was expressing a quality of her own spiritual life, a quality which then became a charism for her followers and for those of us today who would learn from her example.
Enjoy these 12 quotes from St. Mary Mackillop to see how her practical side combined with her deep faith.