Mary MacKillop - Spiritual, Life Achievements and Life

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Mary MacKillop's Personal Details

Mary MacKillop was an Australian nun who went on to become the first saint from the country

InformationDetail
BirthdayJanuary 15, 1842
Died onAugust 8, 1909
NationalityAustralian
FamousNun, Religious Leaders, Spiritual, Humanitarian, Leaders, Spiritual & Religious Leaders
SiblingsAlexandrina MacKillop, Alick MacKillop, Annie MacKillop, Donald MacKillop, John MacKillop, Margaret MacKillop, Peter MacKillop
Known asMary Helen MacKillop
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart
  • Sisters of St. Joseph
Birth PlaceNew South Wales
ReligionCatholicism
GenderFemale
FatherAlexander MacKillop
MotherFlora MacDonald
Sun SignCapricorn
Born inNew South Wales
Famous asNun
Died at Age67

// Famous Religious Leaders

Mary MacKillop's photo

Who is Mary MacKillop?

Mary Helen MacKillop, better known as Sister Mary of the Cross, is remembered as a teacher, an educator, and innovator within the Catholic Church. She is the first, and only, Australian saint. Mary’s parents, both Scottish born, immigrated to Australia, where they met and married. Mary was the firstborn of eight children. She was dedicated to providing education to the poor, and her order, the Josephites, founded schools, orphanages, and nursing homes for the lower classes across Australia. She was well educated, having been tutored by her father, as well as attending private schools, and traveled widely for a woman of her day. Travels took her to Rome, throughout Europe, and across the length and breadth of Australia and New Zealand. Controversy was nothing new to her, and at one point of time she faced the risk of being excommunicated due to differences with her Bishop. Mary was much beloved by the sisters of her order, and she was known to be caring and fair in her dealings with them. Mary’s fragile health did not hold her back from fulfilling her calling, and her work was carried out even through poor health. At the time of her death, she held the position of Superior General within her order

// Famous Spiritual

Childhood & Early Life

Mary was the eldest child of Scottish Catholic parents, Alexander MacKillop and Flora MacDonald. She was born on 15 January 1842 in the Fitzroy suburb of Victoria, which was then a British colony.

Mary attended private schools, and was tutored by her father. Alexander was a good father and husband, but did not provide well for the family. He was never able to make a success of the farm.

Much of the time the family was without their own home, and had to depend on relatives and friends for their food and shelter.

As the eldest of eight children, Mary had a lot of responsibility within her family. She went to work at age 14 as a clerk, and at 16 she began working as a governess to the children of her aunt and uncle, Alexander and Margaret Cameron, who lived in Penola, South Australia.

Two years later, in 1862, Mary accepted a teaching job in Portland, Victoria. Soon she opened a boarding school, ‘Bay View House Seminary for Young Ladies’. The remainder of her family joined her in Portland two years later.

Later Life

Mary and her sisters, Annie and Lexie, were invited in 1866, by Father Julian Tenison Woods, to begin a school in Penola. A stable was renovated for the school, and more than 50 children attended there.

On November 21, 1866, Mary and several other women committed to the religious life. Mary, at the age of 25, took the name of Sister Mary of the Cross, and she and her sister Lexie began wearing the Catholic habit.

As a group, the young ladies called themselves ‘The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart’. They founded a new school, and dedicated themselves to educating poor children.

This school was the first Catholic institution to be founded by an Australian, man or woman.

The “Rule of Life” for the order included a vow of poverty, no ownership of personal belongings, faith that God would provide for their needs, and the readiness to go wherever needed. A plain brown habit was adopted, and the sisters became known as the ‘Josephites’. They soon acquired the nickname of the ‘Brown Joeys’.

In 1867, a school was opened in Yanalilla, South Australia. In two years’ time, there were 21 Josephite sisters educating children in 21 schools across the country. They also worked with the poor elderly, orphans, abandoned children, and operated a home for the incurably ill.

By 1871, there were more than 40 schools, homes, and missions established by 130 sisters of the Josephite order. These were located across Queensland and South Australia.

Due to the health of Bishop Sheil, there was no clear leadership for the diocese, which led to disunity. Local priests tried to discredit MacKillop by rumors of alcohol abuse, and financial incompetence.

Father Charles Horan sought to discredit the Josephites, and convinced Bishop Sheil to change the Josephites’ constitution. MacKillop did not agree, and, on September 21, 1871, Sheil excommunicated her for insubordination.

In 1872, on his deathbed, Bishop Sheil lifted MacKillop’s excommunication, and a commission verified that she was completely restored to the Church.

The Josephites expanded to New Zealand and New South Wales. In March of 1875, Mary MacKillop was elected Superior General of her order.

In 1885, Pope Leo XIII declared the Josephites to be a canonical Congregation. Three years later, he gave the ‘Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart’ his approval.

Sister Mary MacKillop continued as Mother Superior General until her death, except for the period between 1897-99. Even though her final years were spent in a wheelchair, the nuns trusted her to run the order.

Major Works

Mary MacKillop founded the ‘The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart’, an order dedicated to education and caring for the poor. The Order was officially recognized in 1885 by Pope Leo XIII. Sister Mary through the Order worked for establishing schools, orphanages, and homes for the ill, across Australia, and New Zealand.

Awards & Achievements

Sister Mary MacKillop was elected as ‘Mother Superior General’ of the Josephite order in 1875. This was a ground-breaking achievement for a woman.

She was canonized by the Catholic Church on January 19, 1995, by Pope John Paul II, citing her “heroic virtue”.

Personal Life & Legacy

Sister Mary died on August 8, 1909, in a Josephite convent. She suffered from rheumatism and had a stroke, causing paralysis.

She founded the ‘Josephit’e order. A shrine, the ‘Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel’, is in Sydney, Australia.

// Famous Nun

Mary MacKillop biography timelines

  • // 15th Jan 1842
    Mary was the eldest child of Scottish Catholic parents, Alexander MacKillop and Flora MacDonald. She was born on 15 January 1842 in the Fitzroy suburb of Victoria, which was then a British colony.
  • // 1862
    Two years later, in 1862, Mary accepted a teaching job in Portland, Victoria. Soon she opened a boarding school, ‘Bay View House Seminary for Young Ladies’. The remainder of her family joined her in Portland two years later.
  • // 1866
    Mary and her sisters, Annie and Lexie, were invited in 1866, by Father Julian Tenison Woods, to begin a school in Penola. A stable was renovated for the school, and more than 50 children attended there.
  • // 21st Nov 1866
    On November 21, 1866, Mary and several other women committed to the religious life. Mary, at the age of 25, took the name of Sister Mary of the Cross, and she and her sister Lexie began wearing the Catholic habit.
  • // 1867
    In 1867, a school was opened in Yanalilla, South Australia. In two years’ time, there were 21 Josephite sisters educating children in 21 schools across the country. They also worked with the poor elderly, orphans, abandoned children, and operated a home for the incurably ill.
  • // 1871
    By 1871, there were more than 40 schools, homes, and missions established by 130 sisters of the Josephite order. These were located across Queensland and South Australia.
  • // 21st Sep 1871
    Father Charles Horan sought to discredit the Josephites, and convinced Bishop Sheil to change the Josephites’ constitution. MacKillop did not agree, and, on September 21, 1871, Sheil excommunicated her for insubordination.
  • // 1872
    In 1872, on his deathbed, Bishop Sheil lifted MacKillop’s excommunication, and a commission verified that she was completely restored to the Church.
  • // 1875
    The Josephites expanded to New Zealand and New South Wales. In March of 1875, Mary MacKillop was elected Superior General of her order.
  • // 1875
    Sister Mary MacKillop was elected as ‘Mother Superior General’ of the Josephite order in 1875. This was a ground-breaking achievement for a woman.
  • // 1885
    In 1885, Pope Leo XIII declared the Josephites to be a canonical Congregation. Three years later, he gave the ‘Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart’ his approval.
  • // 1885
    Mary MacKillop founded the ‘The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart’, an order dedicated to education and caring for the poor. The Order was officially recognized in 1885 by Pope Leo XIII. Sister Mary through the Order worked for establishing schools, orphanages, and homes for the ill, across Australia, and New Zealand.
  • // 1897 To 1899
    Sister Mary MacKillop continued as Mother Superior General until her death, except for the period between 1897-99. Even though her final years were spent in a wheelchair, the nuns trusted her to run the order.
  • // 8th Aug 1909
    Sister Mary died on August 8, 1909, in a Josephite convent. She suffered from rheumatism and had a stroke, causing paralysis.
  • // 19th Jan 1995
    She was canonized by the Catholic Church on January 19, 1995, by Pope John Paul II, citing her “heroic virtue”.

// Famous Humanitarian

Mary MacKillop's FAQ

  • What is Mary MacKillop birthday?

    Mary MacKillop was born at 1842-01-15

  • When was Mary MacKillop died?

    Mary MacKillop was died at 1909-08-08

  • Where was Mary MacKillop died?

    Mary MacKillop was died in North Sydney

  • Which age was Mary MacKillop died?

    Mary MacKillop was died at age 67

  • Where is Mary MacKillop's birth place?

    Mary MacKillop was born in New South Wales

  • What is Mary MacKillop nationalities?

    Mary MacKillop's nationalities is Australian

  • Who is Mary MacKillop siblings?

    Mary MacKillop's siblings is Alexandrina MacKillop, Alick MacKillop, Annie MacKillop, Donald MacKillop, John MacKillop, Margaret MacKillop, Peter MacKillop

  • Which company or organization was founded by Mary MacKillop?

    Mary MacKillop was the founder/co-founder of Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Sisters of St. Joseph

  • What is Mary MacKillop's religion?

    Mary MacKillop's religion is Catholicism

  • Who is Mary MacKillop's father?

    Mary MacKillop's father is Alexander MacKillop

  • Who is Mary MacKillop's mother?

    Mary MacKillop's mother is Flora MacDonald

  • What is Mary MacKillop's sun sign?

    Mary MacKillop is Capricorn

  • How famous is Mary MacKillop?

    Mary MacKillop is famouse as Nun