Mary MacKillop - Advocate for the poor

Photo: Sisters of St Joseph Congregational ArchivesOn August 8, we celebrate the Feast of St Mary of the Cross, Australia’s first Saint. Mary MacKillop was a pioneer and advocate for the poor, sick and those on the margins of our society. Today, her mission to the poor is very much alive in our world.

Mary’s love for Christ was so strong that she sought Him out in the poor, sick and suffering.

There are many examples in Mary’s life where she put aside her own needs in order to serve the sick, lonely and disadvantaged. The children taught by the Sisters often had no shoes to wear. On the night before their First Communion, Mary would have a re-enactment of the Washing of the Feet. This meant all the children would have clean feet for this special occasion in their life.

From the pen of Mary MacKillop who wrote to the Sisters in March 1900:

If choice be given, seek the most neglected places to which He calls us. Let us never forget that, in the spirit of our Rule, it is to those we should desire to go.... Let us be true to the beautiful spirit of our Institute.... Let St Joseph’s true children remember their mission and seek first the poorest, most neglected parts of God’s vineyard.

Let us be inspired by the work of St Mary of the Cross as we pray the following prayer:

Bountiful and loving God,

You filled the heart of Mary MacKillop with compassionate love for those who are in need and those at the margins of our society.

Inspired by her example, may we be led by your Spirit to reach out to our brothers and sisters.

Give us generous hearts to respond to the cries of those who are poor in our community and in our world.

We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.


Blessed Mary of the Cross, standing with the vulnerable, pray for us.

Blessed Mary of the Cross, standing with the vulnerable, pray for us.

Monica Cavanagh rsj © Trustees of the Sisters of St Joseph (

Reflection - Mary MacKillop - Advocate for the poor
(Duration: 2:30mins, MP3: 1.14MB)

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