In 1871 Sister Mary MacKillop exposed a pedophile Irish Catholic priest in Australia and was excommunicated. Now she is being canonized as Australia's first saint.
Sister MacKillop, a co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, discovered that children were being abused by Father Patrick Keating in Kapunda Parish, near Adelaide in South Australia. She reported it to the other co-founder of the Josephites, Father Julian Tenison and Keating was sent back to Ireland where he continued to serve.
A friend of the pedophile priest, Father Charles Horan, swore revenge on Sister MacKillop and she was excommunicated after for years as a nun by Adelaide's bishop Laurence Shiel who was originally from Wexford. She was left on the streets with no money.
On his deathbed, five months later, Bishop Shiel absolved the punishment and restored her to the sisterhood.
For the past 25 years, Father Paul Gardiner has advocated for Sister Mackillop's canonization. Speaking to the Irish Times he said that Father Horan was working for Bishop Shiel who had urged him to break up the Josephites. When Sister MacKillop refused she was banished. He said "She submitted to a farcical ceremony where the bishop had . . . lost it."
“He was a puppet being manipulated by malicious priests. This sounds terrible, but it’s true.”
Archbishop Philip Wilson, in 2009, 100 years after her death, apologized to Sister MacKillop and the Sisters of Joseph.
He said "On behalf of myself and the archdiocese, I apologize to the sisters . . . for what happened to them in the context of the excommunication, when their lives and their community life was interrupted and they were virtually thrown out on the streets . . . This was a terrible thing.”
Following Sister MacKillop's reinstatement she became well known for her work with disadvantaged children, female ex-prisoners and prostitutes.
In 1995 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II following a decree made by the Vatican in 1961. According to the decree a Sydney woman was cured of leukemia through the intercession of Sister MacKillop. During the mid-1990s a woman was sent home from hospital with inoperable lung and brain cancer but she was cured.
In 2009, Corkman, David Keohane was beaten almost to death in Sydney. He woke from his coma last March and his family says his recovery is due to their praying to Sister MacKillop.
Steve Carey, a Keohane family friend said "All we can really say is that faith in Mary MacKillop helped them to get through this."
Sister MacKillop was born in Melborne in 1842 to Scottish parent. She died in Sydney in 1909.
She will be canonized by Pope Benedict in Rome on October 17, this year.