August 8 – Saint Mary MacKillop Day in Australia

Posted on August 8, 2018

Mary MacKillop is unusual in two ways:

She is Australia's first Catholic saint.

And she's probably one of the few saints who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church! That means she was kicked out of the Church - for a while...

We usually celebrate people on their birthday (the anniversary of their birth), unless we do not know it. But Saint Mary MacKillop Day is the anniversary of her death. She is most remembered for her work on behalf of children, especially for her work educating poor rural kids.

Mary MacKillop's parents emigrated to Australia from Scotland, and MacKillop was born in Melbourne. She grew up poor had to go to work because her family's farm was not successful. Like her siblings, MacKillop had to work from an early age to help support the family. She worked at age 14 as a clerk in a store, but she soon left for South Australia to become a governess for some wealthy relatives.

At that point, MacKillop lived on an estate - a very successful farm - and taught her relatives' children there in the home. But there were many children of farmhands also living on the estate, and MacKillop included those kids in her lessons. 

From that early taste of educating poor children, MacKillop took on teaching at schools, opening up schools, and even starting a group of Catholic nuns dedicated to teaching in the schools. MacKillop started wearing simple brown habits, and her blood sister Lexie and the other sisters (nuns) did, too. They called themselves Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and others called them Josephites.

Now, why was MacKillop kicked out of the Catholic Church?

Apparently there was some bad stuff going back and forth between men who were high-up officials in the Church. Their disagreement was supposedly about education, and one of the men used another man's support of the Josephites as a way to criticize him. he had to tear down the Josephites. He started ugly rumors about MacKillop and excommunicated her.

But when Church official was about to die, he left orders for her to be brought back into Church membership. He probably realized how wrong he'd been to kick her out...


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