Born in Melbourne in 1842, to parents who had emigrated from Scotland, Mary grew up in a family that faced constant financial struggles. As a young woman she was drawn to religious life but could not find an existing order of Sisters that met her needs. In 1860, she met Father Julian Woods, who became her spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of women—the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Josephite Sisters. Its members were to staff schools especially for poor children, as well as orphanages, and do other works of charity. She simply wanted to serve the poor wherever she found them in her native Australia. For a short time, she and her sisters were excommunicated from the Church by the Bishop of South Australia due to “disobedience” but it was all fixed and back to normal. She and her sisters continued to work for God. They served Protestants and Catholics alike. They taught in schools and orphanages and served unmarried mothers. She died in 1909 at the age of 67. In 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI canonized her, she became Australia’s first saint.
Ever generous God, You inspired Saint Mary MacKillop to live her life faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and constant in bringing hope and encouragement to those who were disheartened, lonely or needy. We ask that our faith and hope be fired afresh by the Holy Spirit so that we too, like Mary MacKillop, may live with courage, trust and openness. Ever generous God, hear our prayer. We ask this through Jesus Christ. Amen.