Oil Dedicated to St Mary MacKillop
The St Mary MacKillop is dedicated to the Australian nun. Mary was a religious figure, educator, and social reformer. She was the first Australian beatified by the Catholic Church. Also, she was the first Australian to be recognized as one of its saints.
MacKillop was born in 1842 in Australia to Scottish immigrants. Her father, stressed the importance of education. He homeschooled his nine children. When she was 14, MacKillop began working. At times she was her family’s main source of support. In 1860 she moved to Penola to serve as governess. It was to the children of her aunt and uncle. There MacKillop provided her cousins with a basic education. She soon extended this to the poor children of the town. A young priest, Father Julian Tenison Woods, encouraged her to continue this work. He assured her that educating the poor would be an ideal way to serve God.
Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart
In 1866 MacKillop and Woods founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Also, she established St. Joseph’s School in a converted stable in Penola. She provided a free education to children from the area. In 1867 MacKillop took religious vows. She became the first mother superior of the sisters. The following year the sisters opened schools in other Australian cities. They also opened an orphanage. Then she opened a refuge for women released from prison.
MacKillop intended that the order be self-governed. They were devoted to teaching and charity. She and Woods, insisted that the sisters would accept a life of total poverty. They trusted in Divine Providence. The schools that her order founded provided secular as well as religious education. It was regardless of the religious affiliation of the students. She accepted no money from the government. Her schools remained open to all. They accepted what tuition parents could afford. This was at a time when the government provided funding to religious schools.
Some Australian priests and bishops were openly hostile to the autonomy that the Josephites enjoyed. Also, to MacKillop’s rejection of federal funding. In 1871, Bishop Laurence Sheil of Adelaide excommunicated MacKillop for insubordination. However, on his deathbed, Sheil reinstated MacKillop.
Last years of MacKillop
The remainder of MacKillop’s career was marked by clashes with priests and bishops of the Australian church. After an 1873 meeting with Pope Pius IX, she won papal approval for the Josephite rule. MacKillop expanded the order’s endeavours and attracted new sisters. In 1875 she was appointed superior general of the order. However, she continued to meet with hostility from a number of priests and bishops. The sisters’ work was circumscribed in certain cities. In 1885 she was removed as superior general. However, she was reinstated in 1899 and remained at the head of the order until her death.
MacKillop was beatified in January, 1995 by Pope John Paul II. She was canonized in 2010 by Pope Benedict.