Friday, 17 April 2015 14:57

Dual Honours for Maureen

Written by  Fiona Power
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Maureen with her 2015 Moira Shire award. Image courtesy of Moira Shire.

It’s hard to imagine a more community minded person than Maureen Mannion. The current secretary of the League’s Nathalia branch has served in many roles in this and other organisations in her own region.

‘I like doing my bit,’ she laughs.

Maureen’s efforts were formally recognised this year, when she received the dual honours of the 2015 Nathalia Citizen of the Year and Moira Shire Citizen of the Year awards –a double her husband Tim also achieved in 2006.

Maureen’s work for the League has included 20 years as either president or secretary at local and state level. She well remembers the nine years of commuting to Melbourne at least once a month for Governing Body meetings.

‘They were big learning curves,’ she says. ‘I was reluctant to go down there [to Melbourne], thinking that I really didn’t have that kind of ability to be even part of the committee, let alone taking offices. But it’s surprising what you do when you are encouraged to do it. They were good years.’

Maureen credits her successes, past and present, to God. ‘I couldn’t have achieved any of it without his help,’ she says.  ‘I made a lot of demands on him!’

Maureen was born in Yarrawonga and grew up over the border. She moved to Nathalia when she married in 1958. The Mannions, who have five children, 23 grandchildren and ‘almost’ 20 great grandchildren, ran a mixed farm of sheep, grain and cattle out of Nathalia until 1993 when they moved to the town. They are both involved with the Nathalia and District Historical Society.

It was Maureen’s interest in local history that resulted in her first connection with the papers of Dr Sr Mary Glowrey JMJ in the mid-eighties. At the time, the papers were stored in a suitcase in the office at Mary Glowrey House. Theresa Maher, of Minyip had begun to sort them.

Maureen’s husband Tim traveled regularly to Melbourne to attend Grain Board meetings so she was able to accompany him, stopping off at Mary Glowrey House to work, often alone but in parallel with Theresa, on the collection.

‘We were reading the letters and sorting them into some sort of category,’ Maureen recalls. ‘It was minimal, what we did but I guess it was part of it, and what had to be done.’
The goal of this project was to assemble the material so that Dr Sr Mary’s life story could be written. Maureen took acid-free paper to wrap the papers. They were, she recalls, in remarkably good condition overall.

Before she began this work, Maureen knew little about Dr Sr Mary Glowrey, other than that she was the founding president of the Catholic Women’s Social Guild. As she began to read the letters Maureen became aware of her brilliance and ‘what a marvelous lady she was’.

‘She had to leave her home and her country environment, which would have been a very simple way of living in those times, and to come in to Melbourne and do her studies,’ Maureen says. ‘And then to just keep pushing on. Certainly her father was encouraging her, I’d say... And the battle she probably had on lots of occasions of getting through because she was a woman.’

‘We were often amazed at the things we were reading, what she was doing – it was very interesting.’

In 1986, a group of members of the League met several times to continue the cataloguing and Maureen stepped back from this work, confident it was being followed through.

Maureen says she lost track of the project then, being fully occupied with her other commitments. She was delighted to hear of the cause for canonisation being opened.

‘Her whole story needs to be published, apart from all the work that goes into the canonisation,’ she says. ‘It certainly needs preserving when it’s done.’

In 1986, a submission for funds to promote Dr Sr Mary Glowrey’s story was made which was unsuccessful. For various reasons work on the papers stalled for almost 20 years, when Sr Monica Butler undertook the next phase in cataloguing work.