Mary McKillop: Saint or Sinner?

Sister Mary McKillop, Australia’s first Catholic saint, was listed among the ten most notable people in a recent edition of the Herald Sun.

Her canonisation attracted widespread interest and didn’t escape the close attention of the the Australian media. I was no exception and was fortunate to discuss the canonical procedure a little further with a wonderful eclectic group of friends that meets regularly to share a meal and examine topical issues in terms of faith and its daily application.

A brief description of the canonical procedure can be found at

In common usage the term saint is used to describe people who rise above difficult circumstances and conduct themselves with dignity. We say she’s a saint because, after the death of her husband in tragic circumstances, she has provided  for her four children and raised them to be remarkable citizens, or he’s a saint because he has graciously cared for his disabled wife over many years.

The Catholic church after close examination of Mary’s theology, virtues and miracles consequential to her intercession recognised her as a saint.

A truly a remarkable woman, Mary, under difficult circumstances established the Josephine Order committed to working among the poor in our community and providing education for their children.

Mary, a sinner, had cast herself upon the mercy and grace of God and in response to His gift of forgiveness had lovingly served her Saviour and Lord through the gifts and abilities He had given her.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:2 writes, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here the Apostle teaches that all Christians, the members of the Christian Church, are called to be saints. Furthermore, in Ephesians 4:1 and again in Colossians 1:10 the Apostle exhorts believers to live lives befitting their position as saints.

Mary McKillop is a wonderful example to all Australian Christians of what the Apostle Paul was teaching. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God to be saints set apart for the work He has called us to do.


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