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Our History

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In July 1916, in the midst of World War I, a small group of visionary young women were given the impetus by Father William Lockington S.J. to form an organisation of lay Catholic women to create a more just society and bring Catholic principles to bear upon legislative and administrative bodies. On 1 October 1916, more than 2000 women attended the first meeting of the Catholic Women’s Social Guild (as it was then known) at Cathedral Hall in Fitzroy.  

The League’s first Central Committee included ground-breaking professional women such as Dr Eileen FitzGerald, who later became the Chief Medical Officer for the Education Department of Victoria; Anna Brennan, the first Victorian-born women admitted into legal practice; Maud O’Connell, a trade unionist and social worker who later founded the Company of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (known as the Grey Sisters); Julia Flynn, who later became Chief Inspector of Victorian Secondary Schools; K. Coffey, R. McNamara, E. Mantach, G. Opie, M. Larkin and E.J. Murphy.