New exhibition tells of Mary MacKillop’s work with Sydney’s poor


Mary MacKillop Art Exhibition Preview
An 1890 view from The Rocks over Sydney Cove, St Michael’s Church and the Providence House. (Marist Archives, Hunters Hill)

The inspirational - and vital - work of the Sisters of St Joseph at the end of the 19th century is being celebrated in a poignant exhibition which opens this weekend at the Mary MacKillop Place Museum, North Sydney

Reaching the People: Mary MacKillop in Sydney Cove is an exhibition focusing on Mary's tireless work between 1881 and 1901.

This was a period when many of Sydney's poor and disadvantaged would simply not have survived without the work of orders such as the Sisters of St Joseph and lay reformers of the day.

Museum curator, Edwina Huntley, says the exhibition highlights the establishment of the Sisters of St Joseph in Sydney and their collaboration with the Marist Fathers in helping the poor.

“Visitors will learn about Mary MacKillop’s role in giving Sydney's poor a level of dignity and compassion. This work also led to links being forged between the Sisters and lay social workers in The Rocks,” Edwina said.

The exhibition is a unique opportunity to see artifacts from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority’s St Patrick’s Church dig site. St Patrick’s, dedicated in 1844, is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Sydney and continues to serve the community in Harrington Street, The Rocks.

“The domestic and religious artifacts reveal an intimate story of people of The Rocks from 1851,” Edwina said. Recreated rooms of a typical family home show aspects of daily life from the 1880s to the early 1900s. Children can also take a journey to bygone days, through an interactive website produced by ABC3.”

Reaching the People: Mary MacKillop in Sydney Cove will be opened by the Honourable Tom Uren AO on Friday 27 August, and open to the public seven days a week, 10am to 4pm, from 28 August to 26 September.

Admission to the exhibition is included in the museum entry fee.

The Mary MacKillop Place Museum is located in the School House Building, 9 Mount Street, North Sydney.

For more, call 02 8912 4878 or visit


Reaching the People: Mary MacKillop in Sydney Cove

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