Not only can Herminia now read and write, but she also pours her heart into teaching her grandchildren.

A message from Jane Woolford, CEO of Mary MacKillop Today

It’s truly inspiring to be part of the Josephite family. Like you, I am deeply moved by the extraordinary spirit of Saint Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I’m thankful for this chance to share stories with you about the work we’re doing at Mary MacKillop Today.

With Christmas upon us, I invite you to picture the journey of the wise men, following the guiding star through the desert to a humble stable in Bethlehem. Just like those wise men, Mary MacKillop and her Sisters ventured into the unknown, across the rugged Australian outback, and their courage didn’t stop there! The Sisters travelled into Timor-Leste, during the extremely turbulent years the country was occupied, to bring education to communities in need.

What would drive these brave women, who dared to go where others wouldn’t? It was their heart for sharing God’s love, and their belief in the power of education to help people reach their full potential and flourish.

As united members of the Josephite family, let’s unwrap the true spirit of Christmas by following in the courageous footsteps of Saint Mary MacKillop.

Just like Mary and her Sisters, let’s give the gift of literacy and lifelong learning to help empower communities in need and create a brighter future.

Together, let’s thrive and flourish!

Let us show love in our acts. Saint Mary MacKillop

Meet Herminia, inspiring mother and grandmother! She waited almost 50 years for her opportunity to learn to read and write. When Herminia was growing up in a remote village in Timor-Leste, there was only enough money for her brothers to attend school. Herminia faced enormous challenges throughout her life because she missed out on school. But thanks to our generous supporters, Herminia joined our Parents Training program.

Before, I would try to buy goods, but I could not read the prices. I was lied to… Now I am going to school! I know how to write and read a little bit. I am not lied to anymore… because I know. I can sign my own name! I can go to the bank on my own. Herminia, inspiring mother and grandmother in Timor-Leste

Not only can Herminia now read and write, but she also pours her heart into teaching her grandchildren these essential skills, creating a powerful legacy of knowledge. Herminia’s grandchildren are also part of our Inclusive Early Education project, where our vibrant bus visits their remote school with interactive activities and books in the local language, Tetun.

Never see a need without doing something about it. Saint Mary MacKillop
Herminia is proud to be able to sign her name.

Herminia finally has her opportunity to learn. But Herminia is the exception. As you know, even today, far too many people are unable to access quality education in life, preventing them from realising their full potential.

Timor-Leste has shown immense resilience on its path to building a stronger nation — but sadly, almost half the population continues to live in poverty. As a Josephite family, we can be part of Timor-Leste’s journey towards self-reliance.

Imagine what a community can achieve when people thrive independently and use their own strengths to build a better future for themselves. Children, women and men can reach their full potential and flourish together!

God loves generous souls. Let us try to be the generous ones. Saint Mary MacKillop

Herminia now holds the key to breaking the cycle of poverty: education. She can not only free herself, but also her children, grandchildren and generations to come.

This Christmas let’s empower the next generation of teachers, business owners, nurses and others in Timor-Leste, so they can lead positive change in their communities. Let’s bring the gift of literacy and lifelong learning to children, parents, and teachers to achieve intergenerational change. Today, let’s create a better tomorrow!

You can give the gift of literacy this Christmas with your tax-deductible donation at

Thank you!