Friday, 04 December 2015 13:56

Report from the General President - December 2015

Written by  Anita Toner
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Dr Sr Mary Glowrey’s only regret in her final days was:  “I have not done enough. I could have done more.”  In her recent months, her witness has galvanised us many times into action in the service of life and the protection of the weakest in our midst, and to protect fundamental human rights including freedom of religion, freedom of political speech and freedom of conscience. More battles loom on the horizon.

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Pictured from LR: Fr Justin Driscoll, Sr Mary Glowrey LCM, Margaret Row, Gertie Mangan and Sheila Wilton.

On Saturday 7th November, a large gathering celebrated 97 years of dedicated service by the CWL Ballarat Cathedral Branch with a beautiful Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by an inspiring lecture by Robyn Fahy about the life of Dr Sr Mary Glowrey and the unveiling and blessing of a portrait taken of her in Ballarat in 1918. It was a wonderful day in no small measure thanks to the efforts of Fr Justin Driscoll, Gertie Mangan, Sheila Wilton, Margaret Rowe, Jewell Start and the other members of the League in the Ballarat Diocese. We were also delighted that Bishop Mark Connors and many of Mary Glowrey’s relatives were able to attend.

The beginnings of the Guild in the Diocese of Ballarat were particularly auspicious. The meeting to formally inaugurate the Guild was held in St Patrick’s Hall on Sunday 18th November 1917 and was attended by more than 300 women. His Lordship Dr Foley presided. Present also were the Administrator, Father Kerin, and Fathers Roper, Reidy and Hennebry. Mary delivered a stirring address and noted that in the Guild there is work for every woman, and even the busiest can play some part, however small. She also emphasised the importance of studying the social questions of the day. By the following Saturday, there were already 400 financial members of the Guild in the Diocese of Ballarat.  Branches had been opened in Watchem, Birchip, Donald and Kayrie. Its sphere of action rapidly increased, including the establishment of what was regarded as the largest and best organised Guild library in Australia.

Mary’s older sister, Lucy, and one of her younger brothers, Eddie, were also very involved in the work of the Guild in the Ballarat Diocese. After his ordination, Father Glowrey was stationed for a time at St Patrick’s Cathedral and was appointed as the chaplain to the Ballarat East branch of the Guild in 1921. In the 1930s, Father Glowrey was the chaplain of the Redan branch. In the early 1940s, he was appointed administrator of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He was made Dean and Vicar Forane of St. Arnaud in 1947.

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Selfie of Fiona Basile with Marcin Mazur, photojournalist for the Catholic Church of England and Wales. © Fiona Basile

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Pope Francis at the General Audience, 21 October 2015.
© Fiona Basile

On the global stage, photojournalist Fiona Basile joined the Holy See press gallery to photograph and report on the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for CWL Victoria & Wagga Wagga. Her social media posts during the last week of the Synod reached an audience of more than half a million. Fiona’s photo gallery is available in the ‘Latest News’ section (live link) of our website (Pope Francis gave her a wave each morning!) as is her interview with Cardinal George Pell. To the right are two of our favourite images from Fiona’s time in Rome.

At the time of writing, we are finalising preparations for the inaugural Mary Glowrey Lecture which is to be held on Thursday 26th November in Cathedral Hall, Australian Catholic University, St Patrick’s Campus, Fitzroy. Karin Clark, Fiona Power, Mary Long, Robyn Fahy and Matt Price have been busy behind the scenes co-ordinating what should be a very special event. Preparations are also well underway for our centenary celebration on 1st October 2016.

Our beloved caretaker, Greta O’Donohue, passed away on Friday 13th November after a long battle with cancer. Greta returned to Mary Glowrey House for her last days, a place of charity, warmth and kindness, due in great measure to Greta herself. We loved Greta and she loved us in return and, all who came to MGH suffering, sick, worried, lonely and sad. Greta was a caretaker in the truest way, even during her own illness. Please pray for Greta’s grieving husband John and their son Oliver, her mother, sister and family.

May your heart be lifted in praise this Christmas for the wonderful gift of Jesus and the joy He brings to our lives.

Anita Toner
General President