Mary MacKillop’s gifts keep giving over 150 years later
On August 8, parishes, schools, and Catholic communities across the ACT and Australia will celebrate the Feast Day of Australia’s First Saint, Mary MacKillop.
Over 150 years ago, Mary started her work that would set the course of many generations to come – and today her work is continued by Mary MacKillop Today, the new flagship ministry of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Like Mary, Mary MacKillop Today believes that education is the key to improving futures and one of their core outreaches is the provision of Indigenous Tertiary Scholarships.
Stewart, a proud member of the Wiradjuri people, is one of over 120 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders to have graduated with a Mary MacKillop scholarship, since the program began in 1998.
After leaving school in Year 9, Stewart worked for several years before going to university to complete an Associate Degree in Indigenous Education. It was not easy being the first member of his family to attend university. The financial pressures of studying and juggling full-time work, while caring for his family of five and elderly mother with his partner Sharona, almost led Stewart to quit studying.
Receiving a Mary MacKillop scholarship changed his and his family’s life. Stewart says it was more than the alleviation of financial hardship that motivated him to the finish line.
“… this scholarship was a precious gift and one that I did not take lightly… when I was feeling overwhelmed by my studies, my work, my family and community commitments, I did sometimes struggle but then I would think… these people believe in me: I cannot let them down,” Stewart said.
Stewart recently graduated and has taken up a position at TAFE NSW as the Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator. Stewart told us that he didn’t think he could have done this without his scholarship, commenting that education can change lives, like his. It gives those like his family and, further to that, Australian communities the opportunity to create generational change.
With your ongoing support, we can continue Mary MacKillop’s legacy and help more people like Stewart to create brighter futures for their families and communities. Please consider giving a donation in the envelope included or learn more at www.marymackilloptoday.org.au