I’m so thankful to be part of the Josephite family and share stories with you about the work we’re doing at Mary MacKillop Today. Like you, I am truly inspired by the extraordinary ‘can help’ spirit of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of Saint Joseph who travelled to set up schools in Australia’s remote communities.
But as you know, Mary’s work isn’t yet finished. Many children and adults are still unable to break the cycle of poverty because they can’t access education. And together, with our shared calling to uphold Mary’s legacy, I know we can continue her mission today.
I recently travelled to Fiji to see some of our vital work ‘in the field’. I ventured out to visit a beautiful village on the banks of where two rivers meet. I was warmly greeted by the friendly locals who welcomed me with handmade garlands of colourful flowers which they placed around my neck. The village children played around us. It was such a happy place! But it was also a place in need.
Women in remote villages often miss out on the chance to be educated, and to make an income. I met with a group of women who had recently completed Mary MacKillop Today’s women’s leadership training. They were so excited to share what they had learned, and many were already building their own businesses to serve the community. One woman told me how the program provided her with a freezer so she could earn an income by leasing families a place to store their fish.
Leadership skills are an incredible way for women to grow in self-esteem — becoming less likely to experience discrimination and violence; and more likely to become confident contributors to the community with the ability to achieve something for themselves and their families.
While I was in Fiji, I also went to see our Mobile Kindy run by our local partner, Child Benefit, in ‘informal settlement’ areas. Families from remote islands often migrate to the city hoping for a better life and end up living in a state of transition on others’ land. They’re squeezed into makeshift homes, going without basics like clean water. The school itself is a small, simple structure. But inside is another story. I stepped into a vibrant classroom full of happy children, clapping and singing their rhyming songs. This kindy is crucial because without it these children may miss out on any sort of early learning — making it very difficult for them to start formal school.
These are just a few examples of how, with you by our side, we are keeping Mary’s legacy alive and helping people to flourish. For Mary’s feast day this August, I’m reflecting on her words:
As members of the Josephite family, let us all experience the spirit of Mary by helping others with God’s love in our hearts.
If you’d like to find out more about the work of Mary MacKillop Today, you can visit www.marymackilloptoday.org.au
Chief Executive Officer, Mary MacKillop Today