Birth of Australia’s first saint Mary MacKillop

Australia’s first Roman Catholic saint Mary MacKillop was born on this day in Fitzroy, Victoria to Scottish immigrants Alexander and Flora MacKillop. The first of eight children, MacKillop beared the responsibility for providing for her family for many years, her father failing to support them due to his less than savvy business acumen. His one true gift to his children was his home education, and that helped MacKillop obtain a governess role with relatives at the age of 18 in South Australia. This move allowed her to embark on a teaching career in which she expanded her list of students beyond that of immediate family to include children from poorer families living on her uncle’s estate. She eventually founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart with Father Julian Woods in 1866 and took her vows as a nun to become Mary of the Cross. MacKillop faced numerous challenges during her time, including a period of excommunication, but she managed to persevere and continue her religious work with 300 sisters of St Joseph across Australia and New Zealand as of 1891. Towards the end of her life, MacKillop’s health declined and she passed away as Mother Superior-General at the age of 67 in North Sydney on 8 August 1909. Although efforts were underway as early as 1925 for MacKillop to be declared a saint, a second miracle was attributed to her in 2009 and she was finally canonised by the Vatican on 17 October 2010.