Mary Helen MacKillop (15.1.1842 – 8.8.1909)
Where it all Began.
For a truly inspirational experience we invite you to visit us in Penola, where it all began.
You will be moved and inspired by this fascinating story of Mary’s life, from her birth in Melbourne to her death in Sydney, with a focus on the pivotal Penola years.
This exceptional woman, whose childhood was ‘one of sorrows’, well understood human frailty. However, her strong character and deep spirituality helped her face the most daunting of challenges, including excommunication, with courage and dignity. Mary was a model of goodness.
Through her vocation as a Sister of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Mary made a real difference to the lives of countless Australians. She still does.
Mary told her dearest Mamma that the ‘new stone schoolhouse, a large schoolroom and two small ones attached’ was to be built ‘at the foot of Father Woods’ garden, quite close to the Chapel’.
She and her sister Annie had the great pleasure of teaching in this fine 1867 building, having previously shared a converted six-stalled stable with two horses and an ever-growing number of enthusiastic pupils.
In October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI canonised the Blessed Mary MacKillop and thereby created Australia’s first recognised saint. Pilgrims flocked to Penola in South Australia to help celebrate the occasion.
The Woods MacKillop Schoolhouse
Father Julian Tenison Woods commissioned the Schoolhouse and Mary Mackillop taught and lived there in 1867. It is displayed as a school room of the 1860′s with living quarters in the back rooms.
It was here in 1866 that Mary MacKillop, an outstanding young teacher, and Julian Tenison Woods, a priest and brilliant scientist, founded the uniquely Australian Sisters of St Joseph.
They provided a free Catholic education, initially for the isolated bush children of Penola. Since then the lives of many throughout Australia and overseas have been enriched and transformed.
Our friendly volunteers look forward to sharing with you this special part of Penola, where Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods once walked, and where they made their astonishing dream an exciting reality.
Mary MacKillop Penola Centre
The Centre was completed in 1998 and contains displays with photographs and
artifacts explaining the story of Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods and particularly their time in Penola in the 1860′s. You will enjoy all the things that Mary MacKillop Penola Centre has to offer, especially absorbing the exhibitions and the schoolhouse where Mary’s serene but vibrant youthful presence can still be felt.
Your visit is sure to be either a nostalgic or a novel experience, depending on your age!