In this month’s reflection from the Little Brown Book Too, authors Sue and Leo Kane invite us to reflect on Saint Mary MacKillop’s deep love for those who lived in poverty.

Mary saw herself as blessed by the poor!  Just as the Sisters named in this reflection were inspired by Mary’s love in action, we too are  invited – and challenged – to live in Mary’s spirit today.

‘Seek first the poorest and most neglected of God’s vineyard…’   Mary MacKillop 1900

Mary certainly did this in her own life.  ‘Our dear Foundress had an unparalleled love for God’s poor. I don’t think I’ve met any person with such great love for the poor,’ recalled Sister Cataldus*.

Sister Denis** fills out the picture: ‘One day. I happened to be her companion in Kent Street, Sydney. It seemed to me as if a great many poor people came to us in different parts of the street as we passed along.  Many of them said, “God bless you.” 

Mother said to me:  “I love to get the blessing of these poor people.”

Mary understood that, deep down, we all have to face our own poverty.  She had a real affinity with the poor, so much so that she saw herself as receiving from them.  And, like Jesus, she set out to show them their own worth, while also assisting in practical ways.

In the tough environment of colonial Australia, Mary and her Sisters brought help to many in great need.  Some even lived in tents on the goldfields among the miners.  They valued and loved the poor.

We reflect today about what that means for us, especially in the affluent culture in which we now live.

*Sr Cataldus: Julia Breen 1881-1940       ** Sr Denis: Catherine Malone 1881-1956

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon ME, because he has appointed ME to bring good news to the poor…” (Luke 4:18)

The above reflection is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too,  pages 34-35

© Sue and Leo Kane 2011

Used with the kind permission of the publishers, St Paul’s Publications

Available on line and from Mary MacKillop Centres —

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Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

Art: © Hongbin Zhao

The artist has written:

Mary MacKillop’s commitment to the service of those in need knew no boundaries.  She was willing to go anywhere she could be of help.  She and her Sisters also happily endured the living conditions of the people they helped and the children they taught. I have depicted Mary in the goldfileds with a group of children, bringing them hope and support in a difficult situation. 

From:  Mary MacKillop: A Tribute: © Honeysett Press,  NSW 1995, page 79