Blessed Mary MacKillop (15 January 1842 8 August 1909), of Scottish descent, was an Australian Roman Catholic nun who, together with Father Julian Tenison Woods, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Dedicated to the education of the children of the poor,it was the first religious order to be founded by an Australian. On 17 October 2010, Mother Mary MacKillop will become Australia's first saint, known as St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
MacKillop's order of nuns built dozens of schools across the Australian outback in the 1800s, as well as orphanages and clinics for the poor. She was a strong-willed woman whose life was marked by disputes with church leaders. Bishops and priests attempted to disband her order and take control of her schools; on one occasion, she was briefly excommunicated for inciting her followers to disobedience, though the bishop responsible recanted three years later and she was completely exonerated. Many books have been written about MacKillop's remarkable life.
In 'The Ground of Her Loving: The Spirituality of Mary MacKillop', Margaret Paton delves more deeply into what inspired the great Australian, and her devotion to children and to the poor. She describes the articulate intelligence which enabled her to stand her ground against bishops, and her generosity of spirit which led her to forgive everyone who had wronged her. It is moving to read the loving advice she gave to the sisters, to recognise her lack of self-importance, and her openness to whatever was to be.