Saint Mary MacKillop

Who is a saint? Are saints relevant? Do we need saints? Why bother about saints?

This weekend, on Sunday 8 August, the Australian church will honour the person of Mary MacKillop. This feast recognizes her as someone who acknowledged God as the greatest love in her life and who lived this out through every part of her being. Like many saints formally recognized by the church, she aimed to be and to do this through the difficult times as well as the good times. This feast is meant to enliven the spirit of our souls by reminding us that God is the source of all love and wants to embrace us completely.

She is a great example for us on which to model our lives in our journey to fullness of life with Jesus (Jn 10:10).

Mary is Australia’s first saint. A number of possible dates were submitted to Rome to determine what date her feast would be celebrated on and 8 August was chosen. It was on this day she entered the fulness of life, at the Motherhouse, North Sydney, 8 August 1909.

The need to be inspired seems to last all our lives in one way or another. Sometimes we look beyond our faith to find inspiration (football, cinema heroes, Olympic champions, The Voice)

I first learned of Mary MacKillop when my Year 6 teacher read us a story of her life. I could see my teacher was ‘hooked’ on Mary Mackillop’s story and absorbed the passion of her life’s work.  Years later, I was drawn to express my relationship with God through becoming a Sister of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. I had been enticed by Mary’s love for the poor and of her spirit of service for those in need, her vision of life, her strength to act on her convictions, her ability to see the big picture.

Mary Helen MacKillop – religious leader, co-founder (with Father Julian Tenison-Woods) of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, social reform/welfare, educator (focus on the rural poor) of Scottish decent.



born 15 January 1842 in Melbourne (then to NSW)

died 8 August 1909 Motherhouse, North Sydney

was canonized 17 October 2010 in Rome

best known for her work wherever the need was

respected people from all classes in society.


In 2010, at the time of the Canonization, our Congregational Leader, Sister Anne Derwin, said
“we realise since her canonization in October 2010, many Australians have come to admire and appreciate her strong
dedication to people in society, especially the most vulnerable, that they have a fair deal, that children receive education and love, and that every person is recognised and valued. We are all delighted and hope that Mary’s values of generosity, inclusion, kindness, commitment and reliance on God’s Providence and Goodness, become the hallmarks of our country.”

Sister Katherine Tyrrell rsj
Parent Liaison/Pastoral Care/Choir Director
OLOR Primary School

For more on Mary MacKillop (information, Mass, museum visits, tomb visits, café, pilgrimages etc), please see the website