Australia’s first native-born saint

On October 17, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Mother Mary MacKillop, co-founder of the sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She will be the first native-born Australian saint.

What is most interesting to the press about Mother’s canonization is not so much her heroic dedication to the people she served, but the fact that she was once excommunicated for several months for complaining about priests abusing children. Politics Daily religion reporter, David Gibson, wrote a piece about it:

Now a new documentary set to air on Australia’s ABC television reveals that a major reason MacKillop was banished in 1871 by Bishop Laurence Sheil of Brisbane — she was 29 at the time — was because she denounced the abuse of children by priests


Gardiner said that when MacKillop’s complaints led at least one priest to be disciplined, one of his fellow priests “was so angry with this that he swore vengeance.”

Bishop Sheil rescinded the excommunication edict on his death-bed in 1872.

Fr. Paul Gardiner, the official advocate for MacKillop’s cause, spoke to ABC about MacKillop’s life. He considers the excommunication episode as “a nasty footnote to a heroic story,” and hopes the media doesn’t make it the main theme in their reporting. (Good luck with that.)

MacKillop will be canonized at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square. At the same time, Pope Benedict will also canonize the famous Canadian miracle-worker and founder of Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Shrine Brother Andre Bessette, along with four others.


Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Zo

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