24 July 2009:The centenary of the death of Blessed Mary MacKillop, a woman whose name has become synonymous with great vision, outstanding holiness and heroic character, will be commemorated on Saturday, 8 August.
At Australian Catholic University (ACU), for staff and students alike, Blessed Mary MacKillop has special significance.
Born on 15 January 1842 in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, directly opposite the University's Melbourne Campus (St Patrick's), she dedicated her life to works and values which resonate deeply with the University's Mission.
Co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Blessed Mary MacKillop is the only Australian to be beatified. Her order opened schools and orphanages around the country, along with facilities for the homeless and refuges for former prisoners and prostitutes looking to make a fresh start.
Her respect for the dignity of all people, her service of the disadvantaged, and her efforts to build the capacity of those communities she served are qualities which ACU seeks to instill in its staff, students and graduates.
In the 1880s the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph moved to a cottage in Mount Street, North Sydney, where they established a teacher training school for the Sisters.
Lay students were admitted in 1958, and the school later became the Catholic Teachers' College and in 1982 became part of the Catholic College of Education Sydney.
The campus was given the name MacKillop to identify it as part of the College and to recognise the ongoing support of the Sisters of St Joseph. At the end of 1990, the Catholic College of Education Sydney formally handed over responsibility for the College and its operations to ACU.
In November last year, Archbishop of Sydney His Eminence Cardinal George Pell unveiled a sculpture of Blessed Mary MacKillop at the North Sydney Campus.
ACU Vice Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, commissioned the sculpture by artist Linda Klarfeld to celebrate the University's history and ongoing affiliation with Blessed Mary MacKillop.
I particularly asked that she be depicted in her later years, Professor Craven said. She knew this house, knew this garden. We see this as Blessed Mary MacKillop coming home to MacKillop Campus.