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Our History

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The Catholic Women’s League of Western Australia (CWLWA) traces its formal history to the years just before World War II.

Between October 1936 and the end of 1937, under the leadership of Archbishop Redmond Prendiville, leading Catholic women in Perth organised a central committee, incorporated an organisation based on the model provided by the long established Catholic Women’s League of South Australia, became an affiliate of the National Council of Women of Western Australia and formed seven parish branches.

However for almost a decade before this, there had been interest in Western Australia in the possibility of cooperation between Catholic women not only at state but also at national level.

From the beginning, CWLWA has aimed to operate on several levels—parish, state (both within the Church and in the wider community) and national. From the mid-1960s, the involvement at the international level with WUCWO has also been embraced enthusiastically.

Though initially based in the metropolitan area, the League even in the early days attracted individual members from the country and flourishing branches were established at both Kalgoorlie and Boulder in the Goldfields in the 1940s, though an attempt to found a branch at Wagin in the south west of the state foundered at this time.

By the late 1950s, there were flourishing branches throughout the metropolitan area as well as at Albany in the recently created Diocese of Bunbury, which is recorded as supplying a Diocesan Executive in 1959.
However, it was in the second half of the 1960s that real growth took place in the Diocese of Bunbury with a Diocesan Council being formed in 1969 to recognise this.

The 1984 revision of the State Constitution consolidated the participation of CWL Diocese of Bunbury in the governance of CWLWA which until then had by necessity been metropolitan based.

After several years of discussion, CWL was inaugurated in the Diocese of Geraldton in 1997.

An enthusiastic embracing of the benefits of the internet now keeps all levels of the organisation in close contact with one another as well as with the national body.

From 1972 to 2011, the League owned its own premises in inner suburban Mount Lawley, providing another valuable means of communication and cooperation between members, as well as enabling extensive archives to be established.
Affiliation with the National Council of Women of Western Australia was followed by CWLWA participation in many other community organisations.

After Vatican II, CWLWA was also in the forefront of Catholic commitment to ecumenism and from the late 1970s the League has participated enthusiastically in both the World Day of Prayer movement and Australian Church Women.

Involvement at the national level of what is now Catholic Women’s League Australia has always been valued in spite of the “tyranny of distance”. CWLWA hosted extremely successful national conferences in 1951, 1967, 1979, 1995 and 2009, and has participated in every national conference since 1941. Many branch members also travel to these biennial gatherings to celebrate being part of the wider organisation.