Born: 27 April 1853, Portland, Victoria, Australia
Entered: 07 June 1872, Sevenhill, Australia - Austriaco-Hungaricae Province (ASR-HUN)
Ordained: 1885, St Beuno's, Wales
Final vows: 15 August 1887
Died: 02 February 1925, St Ignatius College, Manresa, Norwood, Adelaide, Australia
Transcribed ASR-HUN to HIB : 01 January 1901
Brother of Saint Mary MacKillop; Cousin Colin McKillop - RIP 1964, and Ken McKillop - RIP 1945
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
His sister with Father Tenison-Woods founded the “Sisters of St Joseph”, and they had a convent in the North Shore Parish. Their focus is on the education of poor children, and so tend to be situated in remote bush areas, where they had very little access to Church and Mass.
Memory of James Rabbitte :
“In 1882 Donald McKillop came to Europe for studies. I met him around 1894 at Riverview. He was then Superior, having been appointed in 1890, of the Daly-River Mission - a Mission the Austrian Fathers had established for the conversion of the Aborigines in the northern territory. A considerable amount of money had been spent there, and they had schools for boys and girls, machinery for working timber etc. Donald had come south to recuperate his health and collect money for his Mission. He was accompanied by two native boys, educated in his schools. Unfortunately the money collected was lodged in a bank which closed while Donald was at Riverview.
He was a man of above average height, with a broad forehead and a flowing beard. years later his health was bad, and he died in Adelaide 02 February 1925.
◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online
McKillop, Donald (1853–1925)
by G. J. O'Kelly
G. J. O'Kelly, 'McKillop, Donald (1853–1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mckillop-donald-4111/text6573, published first in hardcopy 1974,
anthropologist; Catholic missionary; Catholic priest; Indigenous culture recorder; schoolteacher
Died : 2 February 1925, North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Donald McKillop (1853-1925), Jesuit priest, was born on 27 April 1853 in Portland, Victoria, brother of Mary who founded the Josephite Sisters, the largest Australian congregation of nuns. He was educated at St Aloysius College, Sevenhill, South Australia, where he entered the Society of Jesus in June 1872 and did his noviceship and studies in rhetoric and philosophy until 1877. He then taught at the college until 1882 when he was sent for theological studies to Innsbruck in 1883, to north Wales in 1884-85 where he was ordained priest and to Roehampton for his Jesuit studies. With two Jesuit companions he returned to Adelaide on 14 October 1886, all three destined for the mission to the Aborigines in the Northern Territory. This mission, conducted in 1882-90 by the Austrian Jesuits from Sevenhill, involved nineteen Jesuits and had the largest number of Aborigines of any in the Northern Territory. Anthropologists such as W. E. H. Stanner and Ronald Berndt single it out for its insights and appreciation of Aboriginal culture.
The policy adopted on the mission stations followed the model of the Jesuit Reductions in eighteenth-century Paraguay, and McKillop became its most forthright exponent. In 1887-89 he was attached to the Rapid Creek station, near Palmerston, to work and study the Mulluk Mulluk dialect, the lingua franca of the Daly region. Late in 1889 he was sent by Fr Anton Strele to found a new station at Serpentine Lagoon on the Daly. With four companions he laboured for a year among the Madngella and other tribes who had never seen whites, but with little effect.
In December 1890 McKillop was made Superior of the whole mission which then had three stations and a residence in Darwin. He was responsible for the whole venture but the financial upkeep bore heavily on him since the assistance promised by the bishops did not materialise. Deeming the stations had failed, he closed them and in August 1891 concentrated his eleven Jesuits in one new station on the Daly. Despite some successes the policy of small, self-supporting agricultural townships did not attract the Aboriginals and most converts were inconstant. The station was struck by severe poverty and his begging tours in the south and east in 1892-93 were unsuccessful because of the depression and apathy.
The continuing decimation of the tribes made the Jesuits seriously doubt the survival of the Aboriginals. McKillop clung to his policies of preserving the native culture but outside factors crowded in to produce a tragic desperation as he foresaw the end of 'the daydream of my life'. In vivid prose he often lashed out in the press at 'blood-stained Australia', at the white and Chinese population and at the government, whom he castigated for pusillanimity in granting land and finance to missions in tribal territories. Worn-out and seriously ill he was ordered south in October 1897. Leadership of the mission then became mediocre and after floods in 1898-99 the station was closed.
McKillop's direction had been realistic but his criticism of official policy probably lost him co-operation from the government. In intermittent good health he worked in Jesuit parishes in Norwood, South Australia (1898-1901), in Victoria at Hawthorn (1902-03) and Richmond (1904-10), Sevenhill (1911-13) and Norwood from 1914 until he died on 2 February 1925 in North Adelaide. His 'Anthropological Notes on the Aboriginal Tribes of the Daly River, North Australia' had been published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 1892-93. The evidence of J. L. Parsons and Charles J. Dashwood to the select committee on the proposed Aborigines' bill of 1899 suggests that the failure of the Jesuit enterprise in the territory helped to confirm the negative character of government legislation on Aboriginals for the next decades.
V. L. Solomon, N. T. Times Almanac and Directory (Palmerston, 1886-90)
Roman Catholic Mission Reports, Parliamentary Papers (South Australia), 1886-89, 1891-94, 1896-99
R. M. Berndt, ‘Surviving influence of mission contact on the Daly River…’, Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft, 8 (1952)
G. J. O'Kelly, The Jesuit Mission Stations in the Northern Territory, 1882-1899 (B.A. Hons thesis, Monash University, 1967)
Australian Jesuit Provincial Archives (Hawthorn, Melbourne).
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Donald MacKillop, brother of Saint Mary McKillop, was a student at St Aloysius' College, Sevenhill, 1867-71, and entered the Society there, 7 June 1872, the third Australian to do so. He also studied rhetoric and philosophy, and did his regency there as well. He left for Europe in 1882, and studied theology at Innsbruck, Mold and St Beuno's, being ordained in 1885. Tertianship followed at Roehampton, London.
He arrived back in Adelaide, 10 October 1886, and went to the Northern Territory Mission, first at Rapid Creek, 1886-89, where he worked and studied the Mulluk dialect, and then to the Daly River, 1889-90, when he was appointed superior of the mission.
This mission, founded by the Jesuits at Sevenhill, 1882-90, involved nineteen Jesuits and had the largest number of Aborigines in mission stations in the Northern Territory Anthropologists praised the Jesuits for their insights and appreciation of Aboriginal culture.
MacKillop completely reorganised the mission. He obtained a new grant of higher and more fertile land on the Daly. abandoned Rapid Creek and concentrated all the missionaries at the new station of St Joseph's or "new Uniya". He installed a pump for irrigation, obtained a sewing machine for making clothes, planted coconuts and vegetables, learned the Larrikiyah language and used it in the small school. Unfortunately, only one adult was baptised in the nine years of the mission at Rapid Creek. When the whole Northern Mission was closed, 78 adults and 197 infants had been baptised, in addition to 78 being baptised in danger of death. If success were measured in terms of baptisms only, then the value of the mission would have to be questioned. He was critical of government for not granting sufficient land and finance to missions in tribal territories.
MacKillop encountered hard times in 1892. He had few funds, was suffering from influenza, and there were food shortages. During June 1893, he went on a tour collecting money and publicising the mission, and returned to the Daly in July 1894 with £800 and a magic lantern. In time he acquired a herd of pigs and a steam engine for sawing and pumping. Tobacco and sugar cane were planted. Leather was made from goat and bullock hides. Despite all this work, the mission was closed in June 1899 after disastrous floods.
MacKillop had been a real pioneer in accumulating knowledge of the religion and customs of the Aborigines. The Jesuits shielded them from exploitation and cruel treatment. Conversions were very slow, yet the influence of the Jesuit missionaries was long remembered. MacKillop's “Anthropological Notes on the Aboriginal Tribes of the Daly River, North Australia” was published in the “Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 1892-93”.
During the last years of the mission, MacKillop became unwell and was replaced as superior, going to the Norwood parish, 1897-1901. He spent time in the parishes of Hawthorn, Richmond and Sevenhill. During his final years at Norwood, 1913-25, he was impaired in health, but was a consulter, 1914-21. He said Mass, heard confessions and preached from time to time.
At his death, he was remembered as a man of gifts and attainments, exceptional knowledge of scientific matters, an eloquent preacher, and devoted priest. It is coincidental that the first three Australian Jesuits, MacKillop and the two O'Brien's, John and Thomas, all died in 1925 within a few months of each other.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Donald McKillop SJ 1853-1925
Fr Donald McKillop was born in Western Australia on April 25th 1853. He entered the Austro-Australian Mission in 1872. His sister, with Fr Tennison-Woods founded the congregation known as “The Sisters of St Joseph”, which is widely spread in Australia.
In 1894 Fr Donald was Superior of the Daly River Mission, which had been founded by the Austrian Fathers for the conversion of the Aborigines in the Northern Territory. In 1893 he came south to recruit his health and to collect money for the Mission. He was accompanied by two native boys educated in his own schools. Unfortunately the money collected was lodged in a bank which failed while Fr Donald was at Riverview.
His health was never good and he died at Adelaide on February 2nd 1923.