Mary Mackillop (1842-1909) was a great Australian, and was the founder of the sisterly order the sisters of St. Joseph of the sacred Heart. Her work pioneered in the development of a unique, innovative, Catholic education system. She changed public opinion towards nuns and was a true non-conformist. Her immense strength and faith made her a hero to all Australians and the world, with her beatification in January 1995.
Her life was difficult as the family was poor and therefore, she had many responsibilities around the house. Despite this she firmly believed in the dignity and worth of each person, a principle that was the foundation to her actions, principles and ideals. .
She worked as a governess to support the family, but at 15 she knew it was her calling to become a nun. Her experiences in poverty inspired her to devote her life to education of the poor. Father Julian Woods was the one who would assist Mary in bringing her hopes to reality. .
The school at which she worked neglected Catholic teaching, which inspired Mary to open up her first Catholic school in Penola. The school was a dilapidated stable, but Mary was an idealist and remained hopeful. Slowly, children came. The school was a success, and parents could pay fees if they could afford it. Mary's faith in her principles of human dignity and goodness allowed poor families to defy society and have an opportunity of a fulfilling and hopeful future. .
With the meagre income, Mary's diet was usually that of bread and treacle. This portrays Mary's will to sacrifice her quality of life to bring hope to the lives of the poor. She decided to become the 1st member of a new religious order called the sisters of St. Joseph, dedicated to the care and education of poor children. This order put into practice Mary's beliefs and principles. However, her sisters and relatives questioned her intentions of creating a new order, calling her an exhibitionist and arrogant'.