Catholic Education South Australia

St Mary MacKillop

Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph

In 1866, a young woman, Mary MacKillop, together with Fr Julian Tenison Woods, began the Sisters of St Joseph. Both Mary and Fr Julian saw the need to provide an education for children whose families were poor.

The first Josephite school was opened in a stable in the South Australian town of Penola in 1866. Over the many following years, the number of Sisters grew as did their schools. Schools were opened as the needs arose: in country towns, mining towns, cities. The Sisters also became involved in other areas of need including setting up a refuge for women in need and orphanages for children, visiting prisons and working with the sick.

Today the Sisters of St Joseph are involved in many areas of ministry in Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Cambodia. Mary Mackillop was canonized as Australia’s first Saint in 2011.