Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 39, September 1995

Paeroa lays claim to links with Australia's first saint.

St Mary's Church in Paeroa held a special celebration for St Joseph's School children and invited guests to mark the 85th anniversary of the death of Mary MacKillop. The celebration was timely because it also marked two recent events: The release of a film called Mary to Australian cinemas and the final stages of the Catholic Church securing her sainthood.

Mary MacKillop was best known for her work in out-of-way places. In 1866, at the age of 24, she began by raising money to support her first school at Penola in South Australia. She first became acquainted with Paeroa in 1899 when at the request of Parish Priest Dean Hackett, she sent three sisters to staff Paeroa's first Catholic school.

The three sisters, after their trip from Australia, travelled to Paeroa by river steamer and resided at what was known as railway house, or Mrs Salt's, until the convent house was built.

Mary MacKillop visited the new school soon after their arrival and made the arrangements to build a convent. This was completed by July 1902 and served as a convent until it was moved in 1976, when a smaller convent was built.