Reflection on Mary MacKillop

By Michele Shipperley rsj, 8 August 2021
Our Diocesan Patron, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Image: Used with permission of the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.


Strong women are rising up and making their voices heard in the workplace, in society and in the home.

The Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, at a recent march for justice, implored women to be united in stamping out patriarchy. She boldly reminded us that allowing to let fear stop us from doing anything enables evil to thrive in silence.

Mary MacKillop, a woman ahead of her time, continues to be an exemplar of fearless action and a strong protector of the welfare of women. Samela Harris emphasises Mary’s courageous stance in her writings.

Mary MacKillop, aka St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, is not just a saint, she is a feminist icon.

She was out there setting up women’s refuges a century before the #metoo movement.

She was a woman who stood up for women when women were oppressed or victims of domestic violence.

She was a woman who educated girls when the system discriminated against them.

She inculcated them in science as well as the Word of her God.

She was a woman who stood up against paedophilia in the Church, a century before it was a public issue.

She was a woman who stood up against the bullying patriarchy of the bishops and who was excommunicated for it.

She was a woman who dared to go to Rome to put her cause to the Pope in person.

She was a woman who rounded up other women, be they educated or lost souls, and gave them a purpose.

She was a woman who wished to leave no child without an education.

Samela Harris, Southern Cross, 11 December 2018

While Mary MacKillop, as a social activist and inspired leader had the audacity and courage to challenge what beset society and the congregation in colonial Australia, this could be a challenge for each of us. However, we can imbibe some of this fearlessness and generate change in small ways. Grace Tame remarks:

If one of the barriers to progress is ‘silence’, it gives me hope, because the start of the solution is quite simply making noise.

Grace Tame, Women’s March 4 Justice, Canberra, 4 March 2021

The recent Chapter of the Sisters of St Joseph called us to ‘Bring what we have’ and to ‘Listen’.

God’s call at this time is to be audacious Josephite women
raising our consciousness of love by imagining and acting
on new possibilities wherever we are
that will heal, include, untether set right and serve.

– 27th General Chapter, October 2019

Michele Shipperley rsj, ‘Reflection on Mary MacKillop‘. © Sisters of Saint Joseph. Used with permission of the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Must not be reproduced without permission of the Trustees.


Read Daily
* indicates required