Our History

The first President of the then Guild was Mary Glowrey. Together with Mary Glowrey, Anna Brennan, Julia Flynn and Maud O’Connell were office bearers who worked to bring to fruition the dream of the many young Catholic women trying to make a difference in a world torn by war.

Mary Glowrey

Mary Glowrey was born in Birregurra, in 1887. After studying medicine at Melbourne University, she graduated as a doctor, in 1910. Her internship was undertaken at the Wellington hospital in New Zealand. She returned to Melbourne and practised medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Eye and Ear Hospital. She became President of the League in 1916. In 1920 Mary gave up her career as a doctor in Melbourne and sailed to India to attend to the women and children who were dying through lack of medical care. She joined the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph who staffed the hospital where she worked, in Guntur. Her lifework, ministering to thousands of patients, was spent in India where she died in 1957.

Click here for further details from the Mary Glowrey Museum

Image: Mary Glowrey Collection


Fr Lockington SJ

Fr Lockington SJ was appointed as Spiritual Director of the League. He was involved in the League’s early campaigns to improve the appalling industrial conditions of all workers, particularly during some of the big strikes of the period. In 1921, the town of Lockington, Victoria, was named after Fr Lockington, ‘the noted author, preacher and lecturer’. You can learn more about Fr Lockington by going on line at http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lockington-william-joseph-7216

Dr Mannix and Fr Lockington

Anna Brennan

Anna Brennan was born in 1879. After primary and secondary schooling, she enrolled at Melbourne University as a medical student but changed to legal studies. She graduated with a Bachelor of Law and worked at Frank Brennan [her brother] and Co., in Melbourne. Throughout her life, she was active in many Clubs. At the age of 83, whilst attending a lecture at Melbourne University, Anna fell down the stairs which resulted in her death on 11th October, 1962.

Julia Flynn

Julia Flynn was born in 1873. From a young age Julia realised that her passion lay in education. After primary and secondary schooling, she enrolled at Teachers’ Training College, and undertook part time study at Melbourne University. She graduated from University with a Bachelor of Arts.

She joined the Education Department as a teacher and worked her way up to Senior Inspector of Secondary Schools. After a protracted period of rejection because she was a female, Julia was appointed as Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools in Victoria. She made significant changes to the education curriculum.

In 1943, she joined the Catholic Education Office and began the process of obtaining accreditation for Catholic secondary schools to enable them to conduct their own exams.

In 1947, Julia died after suffering a heart attack.

Maude O’Connell

Maude O’Connell was born in 1884. Whilst working as a teacher, Maude went to work in a factory to better understand the conditions of workers. She became a trade unionist to represent the workers and improve work places. Maud was the first Treasurer of the Guild, helping Mary Glowrey to find accommodation for unemployed girls.

After much deliberation, Maude founded the Australian religious congregation – The Company of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament which became known as the Grey Sisters. These Sisters ministered to mothers and children with home cooking, cleaning, etc. during illness or the arrival of a new baby.

Maude O’Connell died in December 1964, having spent her life in the service of others.

catholic womens league of victoria and wagga wagga

Address: PO Box 3192, Cotham, Victoria 3101, Australia.
Email: cwlvicww@gmail.com