It can be comforting when your genealogy research reveals that your ancestors were good people. It must be extremely exciting to learn that one of your ancestors was, in fact, a saint! Strangely enough, this is precisely what genealogy research revealed for one man. Which means that many of his relatives will also have the blood of a saint running through their veins as well.
Susanne McDonald has a cousin who was doing some genealogy work on their family. The cousin discovered that Susanne's husband, Rod McDonald, is related to Mary MacKillop. It turned out that Mary MacKillop is the great niece of Rod McDonald's great great great grandfather.
Who is Mary MacKillop? She was canonized as a saint by the Catholic church in October 2010, by Pope Benedict XVI. This makes her the first Australian saint. She is also known as Saint Mary of the Cross. Mary MacKillop was a nun who founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She helped to establish schools for the poor, especially those from country areas. She also was a supporter of the Aboriginal people. When she was young, she, and 47 other nuns, were excommunicated from the Catholic church, due to disagreement with high clergy. The bishop revoked this ruling five months later, and restored her to her order. She as been praised for her “courageous and saintly example of zeal, perseverance, and prayer”. Mary MacKillop was born in 1842, and died in 1909.
Susanne McDonald is a devout Catholic, but Rob McDonald, who's ancestor was Mary MacKillop, sometimes attends the Church of England. They have four children, and five grandchildren. Naturally, this couple says they are proud to have a connection to Mary MacKillop, because she loved children as much as they do. No matter what your religious beliefs happen to be, it is still pretty interesting to hear about someone who is related to the first Australian saint!