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Neela Kale Answers:
Mary MacKillop, the co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), is one of our most recently canonized saints and was the first Australian to be canonized. She lived from 1842-1909. As a teacher and dedicated servant of the poorest of the poor, she led her sisters to found schools, orphanages, homes for the aged and various other ministries. In the publicity leading up to her canonization, one aspect of her career received intense attention: During a conflict with the local bishop, who tried to change the Josephites’ constitutions after the order helped to remove a priest suspected of pedophilia, she was briefly excommunicated for insubordination. Ultimately she was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing. Mary MacKillop is widely venerated in Australia and was honored on a one-dollar coin in 2008. In her canonization ceremony on October 12, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI praised her for her commitment to serving and educating the poor in rural Australia and for her leadership in founding that country’s first order of women religious. We celebrate St. Mary MacKillop’s feast day on August 8.