Praying with St Mary of the Cross


This prayer has been inspired by retreat notes written by Mary MacKillop.


Introducing Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop was born in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, on 15 January 1842. She was the eldest of eight children. Her family struggled financially and, from the age of 14, Mary needed to work to help support the family. In 1860, she went to Penola in South Australia to be governess to her uncle’s children. She spoke with the local priest, Fr Julian Tennison Woods, about her desire to become a nun and together they dreamed of starting a religious group. Six years later, on 19 March 1866 (St Joseph’s Day) Mary wore a plain black dress to signify that she had begun to live a Religious life. Within two years 120 women had joined the Religious Institute. They took on the work of educating children in small parish schools, and caring for orphans and needy women. Little did Fr Woods and Mary know what was to spring from so small a beginning. These ‘Josephite’ Sisters walked the streets to visit the poor, and lived in twos and threes in rented houses in isolated areas or city slums. The Sisters lived and shared their possessions as equals.

Mary overcame many obstacles to follow her dream, but she never lost hope. Mary’s motto was ‘never see a need without trying to do something about it.’ Her life reveals to us a compassionate God, a God of love. Her actions acknowledged the human dignity of each person. Her life speaks to Australians, in a unique way, of the message of God’s love for all, especially for the ‘underdog’ and the ‘battler.’ As Australia’s first canonised saint, she embodies all that is best in our Australian nation and its people.

More About Mary MacKillop

The outstanding site on the Web about Blessed Mary MacKillop who on the 17th of October will be canonised as St Mary of the Cross and become Australia’s first saint was jointly produced by the Sisters of St Joseph and Fraynework multi- media company.

With access to the full Mary MacKillop archive, this beautifully produced site gives a detailed account of Mary’s life, work and influence and is enriched with a timeline, many photographs, film clips and interviews. It is not to be missed in any study of Blessed Mary’s life.

There are a few other sites online. The site of the Sisters of St Joseph is an obvious place to start and it is also helpful to examine a timeline of Mary’s life. Another simple but informative site with many links comes from the Flinders Ranges Learning Centre in South Australia.

page on the Catholic Australia site provides the extraordinary statistics in relation to Mary MacKillop’s dedicated work for Australian Catholic Education. Other pages explore the possibility that Caroline Chisholm may have proved inspirational to Mary as she worked out the context for her life of service.