Newsletter Subscribe
Australian Catholics Subscribe

Catholic Teacher: Praying the scriptures with Mary MacKillop

Staff |  09 August 2017

There are not many excommunicants who end up as saints, but our Australian Saint Mary of the Cross is one. 

In troubled times, she fought for the independence of her congregation and, to protect children in Josephite schools, she brought a situation of clerical abuse to the attention of the Director of Education, Julian Tennison Woods.

She made some powerful enemies. A case of personal and financial unfitness was constructed against her. She was excommunicated by her bishop at her convent altar. Today, as then, saints are scarce; but we are not short of leaders guilty of even worse offences against innocence.

Mary wrote joyfully of her excommunication, fully forgiving her accusers. ‘I do not know how to describe the feeling, but I was intensely happy and felt nearer to God than ever before. I shall never forget the sensation of God’s calm, beautiful presence.’ She was eventually completely exonerated and her excommunication lifted.

Saints show us in their lives how God makes the impossible become possible.

Those who knew Mary often used the word ‘kind’ to describe her. When she realised she could not agree with the demands being made on her prior to her excommunication, she took her stand humbly, speaking ill of nobody. Of prayer, she wrote: ‘I do not spend much time in prayer, but God’s presence seems to follow me everywhere and make everything I do or wish to do a prayer.’

She was kind. She grew up in an immigrant family on the struggle-side of town. Needy, poor people, no-account children were before her every day. Her father was improvident, her mother quietly desperate. ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’, she would say. Responding to the whisper in her young heart, she started a tiny school with pennies. And it all grew from there.

These daily scripture reflections (originally for the first eight days of August), look at the life of Australia’s first saint through the lens of the daily Gospel stories. As you contemplate the daily Gospel reading, reflect on Mary’s story, and consider how your own faith journey can be enriched by her example.

Day 1


Day 2


Day 3


Day 4


Day 5


Day 6


Day 7


Day 8



Topic tags: saints, thecatholictradition, scriptureandjesus, prayer, liturgyandthesacraments

Request permissions to reuse this article


Submitted feedback is moderated. Please read our comments policy. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Similar articles

Sneaky Jesus song – Grandmother's song

Michele Frankeni | 25 Jan 2018

A ‘Sneaky Jesus song’ may not be a religious tune, but that doesn’t stop it from being deeply spiritual. Our latest song features an all-female Aboriginal group from the Northern Territory.

Catholic Teacher Blog: Stamping out online abuse

Fr Peter Hosking SJ | 23 Oct 2017

Incidents of inappropriate online behaviour by school students continue to be a concern. 
The values of respect, empathy and consent are critical to good relationships online and anywhere else.

Catholic Teacher Blog: Risk & Success

Brendan Nicholls | 12 Oct 2017

'Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his idea, to take a calculated risk, and to act.' – Maxwell Maltz


Catholic Teacher Blog: Social Justice Sunday - September 24

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ | 25 Sep 2017

If you want to stay happy and healthy you need to draw on the skills of cooks and dieticians. You also need them to stick to their own skills. Ask a dietician for a happy recipe and you may eat miserably. Ask a pastry cook to care for your diet and you may become a cardiac disaster.

Sneaky Jesus Song: You found me

Brendan Nicholls | 14 Sep 2017

A ‘Sneaky Jesus song’ may not be a religious tune, but when you listen to the lyrics it could be mistaken for one.