Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842 – 1909)
Australia's first saint
Mary MacKillop was born in Melbourne in 1842 into a poor family of eight children who were often placed with friends and relatives so they could be looked after. When she was 16, Mary left her family to work as a governess and teacher for her cousins in Penola, South Australia, so that she could send money back to support her family.
Whilst in Penola Mary met Julian Tenison Woods, a gifted missionary priest, scientist, geologist, writer, musician and popular lecturer. Mary eventually began teaching local parish children in a former stable, which became the first St Joseph's School. The young women who joined her as teachers became her religious sisters and they began teaching the poor children in many small outback towns and big cities.
They took the model of the European schools (largely created by John Baptist de La Salle and used by Daniel Delany) and modified it for Australians. This meant that the sisters taught subjects that helped young people get jobs and good manners and music so they could mix in any social company.
Of course, they taught students religious education and how to pray so they could be thankful for their many personal gifts and always place their trust in God, whatever life placed before them. Mary depended on her trust in God many times during her life when she faced opposition from civil and church authorities and when her own health failed her badly. She rose above these difficulties right up until her death on August 8 1909.
During her life she ran orphanages, hostels for the homeless and the poor and for ex-prisoners and prostitutes who wanted to change their lives. Her sisters brought Catholic education to Redcliffe in 1922 with Our Lady Help of Christians on a site next to the present museum. They and many others have extended her work beyond Australia and New Zealand to Peru, Brazil and to refugee camps in Thailand and Uganda.
We at SCCC are part of the MacKillop family and continue her work of bringing God's compassion to those in need.
"Never see a need without doing something about it."
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RTO National Provider No. 30487
The Corporation of the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane t/a
SOUTHERN CROSS CATHOLIC COLLEGE
307 Scarborough Road Scarborough QLD 4020
P 07 3480 3600 | F 07 3480 3666 | E firstname.lastname@example.org
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