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Thursday 8 November 2012

Review: Mary MacKillop: Australia's First Saint

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the moving story of Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first saint.

Born in 1842 in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Mary was a helpful young girl with a dedicated mother and a smart, warm but rather reckless father, Alexander. When Alexander temporarily abandons Mary’s mother and children to travel back to Scotland, Mary busies herself with taking care of her younger siblings and continuing to read every morsel she could lay her hands on – even the writings of her own father who was a great believer in equality and aiding the poor.

Mary’s journey to sainthood was both arduous and startling. Her order – the Josephites, based in South Australia – frequently fell under hefty criticism, both from the community and the greater church, who spurned Mary’s decision, along with her mentor Father Woods, to create a non-diocesan order.

Coupled with her passionate belief that all children educated in her care should be treated equal, and her insistence that the non-diocesan status of her order was vital to efficient operation, Mary’s order fell under frequent attack and, after a particularly damaging, twisted attack by a man named Father Horan, Mary was – most shockingly to all who knew her – excommunicated.

Mary handled this excommunication with typical grace and courage. Just five months later, she was readmitted to the church by Bishop Sheil.

Mary McKillop lived a pious but richly rewarding life. She travelled Australia and overseas, and saw to the education and support of countless children. After many decades of campaigning, her life’s work was recognised on 17 October 2010 when she was finally handed sainthood.

This is a clear, emotional and riveting snapshot of this remarkable woman’s life, part-illustrated throughout, and would suit children aged 7 to 12.

Title: Mary MacKillop: Australia's First Saint
Author: Gabiann Marin
Illustrator: Angela Grzegrzolka
Publisher: New Frontier, $14.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 October 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781921928192
For ages: 7 - 12
Type: Historical Fiction, History