Sister Mary of the Cross, whose real name was Mary Helen MacKillop, is remembered as a teacher, educator, and leader in the Catholic Church. She is Australia’s first and only saint. Both of Mary’s parents were born in Scotland, but they left for Australia, where they met and got married. Mary was the first child of a family of eight. She worked hard to help poor people get an education, and her group, the Josephites, set up schools, homes for orphans, and nursing homes for the poor all over Australia. She had a good education because her father taught her and she went to private schools. She also traveled a lot for a woman of her time. She went to Rome, all over Europe, and all the way across Australia and New Zealand on her trips. She was used to getting into fights, and at one point, she was in danger of being kicked out of the church because she didn’t agree with her Bishop. Mary was loved by the sisters in her order, and it was known that she treated them with care and fairness. Mary’s health was not great, but that didn’t stop her from doing her work. Even though she was sick, her work was done. At the time of her death, she was in charge of her order as the Superior General.
Early years and childhood
Mary was the first child of Alexander MacKillop and Flora MacDonald, who were both from Scotland and were Catholic. She was born in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Victoria, which was a British colony at the time, on January 15, 1842.
Mary went to private schools and her father taught her at home. Alexander was a good husband and father, but he did not take care of his family well. He could never make the farm work for him.
Most of the time, the family didn’t have a home of their own and had to rely on food and shelter from family and friends.
As the oldest of eight kids, Mary was in charge of a lot of things in her family. She started working as a clerk when she was 14, and when she was 16, she became a governess for her aunt and uncle’s children in Penola, South Australia.
In 1862, after two years, Mary took a job as a teacher in Portland, Victoria. Soon, she opened “Bay View House Seminary for Young Ladies,” a boarding school for girls. After two years, the rest of her family moved to Portland with her.
A Later Life
Father Julian Tenison Woods asked Mary and her sisters Annie and Lexie to start a school in Penola in 1866. For the school, a stable was fixed up, and more than 50 kids went there.
On November 21, 1866, Mary and a group of other women decided to become nuns. Mary became Sister Mary of the Cross when she was 25 years old, and she and her sister Lexie both started wearing the Catholic habit.
The young women called themselves “The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart” when they were together. They started a new school and made it their mission to teach poor kids.
This school was the first Catholic school started by an Australian, whether he or she was a man or a woman.
The order’s “Rule of Life” said that they had to promise to be poor, not own any personal belongings, have faith that God would take care of their needs, and be ready to go wherever they were needed. The sisters wore a plain brown dresses and became known as the “Josephites.” They quickly became known as the “Brown Joeys.”
In Yanalilla, South Australia, a school opened in 1867. In just two years, 21 Josephite sisters were teaching kids in 21 schools all over the country. They also helped the poor elderly, orphans, and children who had been left behind, and they ran a home for people who were too sick to get better.
By 1871, 130 sisters of the Josephite order had set up more than 40 schools, homes, and missions. All of these were in Queensland and South Australia.
Due to Bishop Sheil’s health, the diocese didn’t have clear leadership, which led to division. Local priests tried to hurt MacKillop’s reputation by spreading rumors that she drank too much and was bad with money.
Father Charles Horan tried to make the Josephites look bad, so he persuaded Bishop Sheil to change their rules. MacKillop did not agree, so Sheil kicked her out of the church on September 21, 1871, for not following orders.
Bishop Sheil lifted MacKillop’s ex-communication on his deathbed in 1872, and a commission confirmed that she was fully accepted back into the Church.
The Josephites spread to New South Wales and New Zealand. Mary MacKillop was chosen as the Superior General of her order in March 1875.
Pope Leo XIII made the Josephites a canonical Congregation in 1885. Three years later, he gave his blessing to the “Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.”
Except for the time between 1897 and 1899, Sister Mary MacKillop stayed as Mother Superior General until she died. Even though she was in a wheelchair for her last years, the nuns still trusted her to run the order.
Works of note
Mary MacKillop started a group called “The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.” This group’s goal is to teach and help the poor. Pope Leo XIII gave the Order its official name in 1885. Sister Mary used the Order to help set up schools, homes for orphans, and homes for sick people all over Australia and New Zealand.
Awards & Achievements
In 1875, the Josephite order chose Sister Mary MacKillop to be “Mother Superior General.” This was the first time a woman did something like this.
The Catholic Church made her a saint on January 19, 1995. Pope John Paul II did this because of her “heroic virtue.”
Personal History and Legacies
Sister Mary died in a Josephite convent on August 8, 1909. She had rheumatism and a stroke, which left her paralyzed.
She started the order of Josephites. In Sydney, Australia, there is a memorial chapel called the “Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.”
Estimated Net worth
Mary is one of the wealthiest Religious Leaders, and she is also on the list of the most popular Religious Leaders. Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider all say that Mary MacKillop has a net worth of about $1.5 million.