Categorised | Local, News, Victoria

Irish Australian nun on path to sainthood

Sr Mary Glowrey

Sr Mary Glowrey has Irish family links to Limerick and Cork. Photo: Catholic Women’s League of Wagga Wagga

Irish-Australian Mary Glowrey is on the way to becoming the country’s second saint.

The much-loved doctor and religious sister died in 1957, after spending most of her life helping the women and children of India.

Sr Glowrey’s grandparents on both sides left Ireland during the famine on the Lady Peel and arrived in Melbourne in 1848. Her maternal grandparents were Patrick Danaher and Eliza Sheahan who came from Limerick and an island on the Shannon.

Her paternal grandparents were James Glowrey, whose parents are buried in Glasnevin cemetery, and a Cork doctor’s daughter, Eliza Barry.

Sr Glowrey was born 1887 to Edward and Mary in Birregurra, Victoria, and was the third of nine children. In March, her journey to becoming recognised as a saint began when she was declared a “Servant of God” by the Bishop of Guntur in India.

This was a huge moment for the Catholic Women’s League of Victoria, and Wagga Wagga; she was the founding president of the organisation.

Bishop Gali Bali has invited anyone who can help her cause to come forward. The League has also established a register to record the accounts of people who believe they received spiritual favours through her intercession.

Crucially, for sainthood there must be evidence of favours or miracles attributed to her work. But it is understood there is a lot of evidence of her intercessory power, which has to be independently assessed.

Sr Glowrey worked at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne but her life changed when she read about the high level of infant mortality in India.

“It brought me face to face with Christ. My life’s work lay clear before me now. It was to be medical mission work in India,” she said later in life.

She left her career in Melbourne and sailed to India to become a medical missionary with the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Guntur. She spent the rest of her life working in India, training local women to become nurses and midwives.

After an operation in the Netherlands to remove a tumour, she travelled to Ireland to discuss the possibility of training Indian women as doctors at University College Cork. Her request failed. She died in Bangalore at 70.

Mary McKillop was recognised as Australia’s first saint in 2010.

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