Faith and Mission

On January 15, 1842 Mary MacKillop was born of Scottish parents, in Fitzroy, Victoria.

From the age of sixteen, Mary earned her living and greatly supported her family, as a governess, as a clerk for Sands and Kenny (now Sands and MacDougall), and as a teacher at the Portland school. While acting as a governess to her uncle’s children at Penola, Mary met Father Julian Tenison Woods who, with a parish of 22,000 square miles/56,000 square kilometres, needed help in the religious education of children in the outback. At the time Mary’s family depended on her income so she was not free to follow her dream. However, in 1866, greatly inspired and encouraged by Father Woods, Mary opened the first Saint Joseph’s School in a disused stable in Penola.

Young women came to join Mary, and so the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph began. In 1867, Mary was asked by Bishop Shiel to come to Adelaide to start a school. From there, the Sisters spread, in groups to small outback settlements and large cities around Australia, New Zealand, and now in Peru, Brazil and refugee camps of Uganda and Thailand. Mary and these early Sisters, together with other Religious Orders and Lay Teachers of the time, had a profound influence on the forming of Catholic Education as we have come to know and experience it today. She also opened Orphanages, Providences to care for the homeless and destitute both young and old, and Refuges for ex-prisoners and ex-prostitutes who wished to make a fresh start in life.

Throughout her life, Mary met with opposition from people outside the Church and even from some of those within it. In the most difficult of times she consistently refused to attack those who wrongly accused her and undermined her work, but continued in the way she believed God was calling her and was always ready to forgive those who wronged her.

Throughout her life Mary suffered ill health. She died on August 8, 1909 in the convent in Mount Street, North Sydney where her tomb is now enshrined. Since then the Congregation has grown and now numbers about 900, working mainly in Australia and New Zealand but also scattered singly or in small groups around the world. The “Brown Joeys” may be seen in big city schools, on dusty bush tracks, in modern hospitals, in caravans, working with the “little ones” of God – the homeless, the new migrant, the Aboriginal, the lonely and the unwanted, in direct care and in advocacy, in standing with and in speaking with. In their endeavours to revere the human dignity of others and to change unjust structures, the Sisters and those many others who also share the Mary MacKillop spirit continue the work which she began.

This great Australian woman inspired great dedication to God’s work in the then new colonies. In today’s world, she stands as an example of great courage and trust in her living out of God’s loving and compassionate care of those in need.

Learn more about St Mary MacKillop

On Monday August 8 the College Community joined together in Houses Annecy, Collinson, Moroney and Savio in prayer to celebrate the Eucharist. We listened to the Word and how Mary worked tirelessly in the area of education. I would like to thank our Rector, Fr. Frank, Fr. Cantamessa, Fr. Martin Tanti (Salesian from Lysterfield) and Fr. Chris Toms (Parish Priest of St Mary Magdalene’s) for celebrating the masses for us. I would also like to thank the Heads of House and all the boys who played an active role on the day.

As a way of further learning about Australia’s first Saint, the Year 7 students participated in an incursion about the life and work of Mary Mackillop. This experience also prepared them for the House Liturgies celebrating her feast day.


The Mary MacKillop play was interesting and entertaining. The play was about her adult life and her great achievements that allowed her to become a Saint. It was amazing how they showed parts of Mary’s life in a short time and in a clear way, especially in such a small space and limited props.

  • Andrew Keo, 7C

Last week all the Year 7’s went to watch a play on Mary Mackillop’s life, to prepare us to celebrate her feast day on August 8th. It had really interesting stuff included in it and what she did in her life. We learnt about how she lived, how she helped the poor and uneducated students in Australia and what she did to become a saint. She was a strong and determined women who showed great faith.

  • Miren De Silva, 7C


Mrs Nadia Knight
Assistant Principal – Faith and Mission