Saturday, 25 November 2017


November 26-27, 2017

Part 1, By Anna Krohn

“In the course of my lifetime I have been called by many names – ‘good-for-nothing’, ‘slow coach’ and ‘dreamer’ – all names that are easily understood and perfectly applicable.” 
(The Horizon, 1 January 1932)

It is not too difficult to imagine a slight smile on the face of the truly remarkable but characteristically self-effacing Australian Catholic woman as she penned the above words. Her name was Dr Sr Mary Glowrey JMJ of the Dutch missionary order of the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, whose cause for  canonisation by the Church was begun in India in 2010. There has been much excitement spreading about her life. She is noted on the University of Melbourne website and in newspapers and newsfeeds in countries as far apart as Vietnam, Canada, Poland and Italy. And with good reason!
Mary Glowrey combines the determination and shining person -to-person charity of Mother Teresa with the organisational genius of great Australian medical innovators such as the Rev. Dr John Flynn of the Flying Doctor Service and Fred Hollows but in some ways raised to the power of 10.
At school and university she felt “like a fledgling just dropped from the nest”, an ugly duckling whose peers called her a ‘timid mouse’. But her shyness was transformed into contemplative attention. Her self-effacing care made her a ‘first’ in a whole string of outstanding achievements.
Mary was one of the first women in Victoria to achieve a doctorate in medicine in 1919, having previously obtained out-standing results in specialist studies in opthamology, gynaecology and obstetrics. She was also the first general president of the first Catholic women’s organisation in Victoria – the Catholic Women’s Social Guild (now known as the Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga) – in October 1916.
Many secular feminists might consider her silent decision to walk away from a successful private medical practice, from her leadership of a large women’s activist group, from personal possessions and her chances of any intimate family or maternal relationship to be totally misguided – in effect ‘good-for-nothing’. Yet they would surely admire the scope of her mission to the planet’s neediest sick people. She began   her work in India as a sole medical practitioner with one room and one rudimentary medical cabinet. After 36 years, she had founded and led a hospital, nursing service and training centre that cared in one year for 45,728 inpatients, 562,454 outpatients, 6628 domiciliary nursing cases and more.   
(to be continued)
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” -St. Augustine