Mary MacKillop 1890.

As a child, Saints were an important part of my world. As a community we celebrated our patrons and gazed with mysterious wonder at the beautiful statues that adorned our parish churches. We valued the holy pictures given for achievement or for special occasions, attended the weekly novena for Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and prayed earnestly to St Anthony to search and find our lost items.

Saints are still important to us because of their life achievements, heroic virtues and holiness. Virginia Bourke reminds us that on All Saints and All Souls Day, “We celebrate what we cannot afford to forget and ‘play forward’ our hopes to become, as Christians, living expressions of the communion of love and connectedness in which God created us, and for which Jesus lived his life among us.”[1]

This month we celebrated All Saints and All Souls Day, and we can be proud that Mary MacKillop is our Australian Saint. Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, said, “What she stood for really encapsulates the values and spirit of Australia, and this is why her appeal goes much beyond just that of the Catholic community.”[2] The Litany of the Saints is all the richer now that Mary MacKillop intercedes for us.

We are always inspired by the holiness and goodness of the saintly people who live among us. Our parents, family and friends have blazed the trail with example, suffering and great love, showing fervour in their faith and devotion to family and humanity, often enduring hardship and distress to enable a better future.

Mary is our Saint, not just for the miracles that occurred through her intercession, but by her expression of the works of mercy, her belief in ecumenical education, her attention to the poor and the prisoners, her sense of justice and, mostly, her ready forgiveness. Mary had the courage and tenacity to expose a priestly sexual abuse case, “With St. Mary MacKillop, Catholics now have a patron saint for the untold numbers of survivors of sexual abuse and their families. As a personal prayerful relationship unfolds, we believe she will intercede on their behalf. There will be the never-ending prayers for the trauma to end and prayers for healing and wholeness and the ability to forgive.”[3]

Mary MacKillop had an adventurist spirit and an enormous heart. Today she would be at the forefront of those who promote a prophetic stance for justice, a renewed future for today’s church and action for climate change. She would laud the whistle blowers, minister to the prisoners and the homeless and stand with the poor and neglected.


  • What does Mary’s sainthood mean to you?
  • Reflect on a person who inspires you by the goodness of his/her life.
  • If Mary MacKillop were at COP26, what message would she have for us?

Pray with Mary MacKillop.

Michele Shipperley rsj


[1] Bourke, VM. (2020).  All Saints and All Souls Day, Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart website.
[2] Mares, Courtney (2020). Australia celebrates 10th anniversary of St. Mary MacKillop’s canonization, Catholic News Agency.
[3] Sevre-Duszyndks, Janice (2010). St Mary MacKillop and the Communion of Saints, National Catholic Reporter.