Mary Helen MacKillop (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909), also known as Saint Mary of the Cross, was an Australian Roman Catholic nun who, together with Father Julian Tenison Woods, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australasia with an emphasis on education for the poor, particularly in country areas. Since her death she has attracted much veneration in Australia and internationally.
1842: Mary Helen MacKillop was born in Fitzroy, Victoria to Scottish parents Flora MacDonald and Alexander MacKillop. She was the eldest of their eight children.
1860: MacKillop started work at the age of 14 to help provide for her needy family. It was whilst working as a governess she met Father Julian Tennison Woods, who shared her dream of educating the poor.
1866: Together they opened the first Catholic free school in Penola in 1866, and then formed a new order of nuns, dedicated to helping the poor. They raised money for homeless shelters, hospitals and orphanages.
1867: MacKillop became the first sister and mother superior of the newly formed order of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and moved to the new convent in Grote Street, Adelaide.
1872: MacKillop made preparations to leave for Rome to have the rules of the Sisters of St Joseph officially approved.
1875 - 1887: Decree from Rome constitutes the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart as an approved Regular Congregation with Mother House in Sydney. Diocesan Congregations of the Sisters of St Joseph to be distinct from the other and to make some alteration in their habit and rule.
1909: MacKillop died on 8 August 1909 in the Josephite convent in North Sydney.
2010: Mary MacKillop becomes the first canonised Saint of Australia.