Mary Glowrey

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Servant of God
Mary Glowrey, J.M.J.
Religious
Born(1887-06-23)23 June 1887
Birregurra, Victoria, Australia
Died5 May 1957(1957-05-05) (aged 69)
Bangalore, Bayalu Seeme, India
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church

Mary Glowrey (1887-1957) was an Australian born and educated doctor who spent 37 years in India, where she set up healthcare facilities, services and systems. She is believed to be the first Catholic religious sister to practise as a doctor.[1] The Catholic Church is investigating her Cause for Canonisation and declared her a Servant of God in 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Mary Glowrey was born in the Victorian town of Birregurra on 23 June 1887.[3] Her family moved to Garvoc, then north to Watchem, in Victoria’s Mallee region. Her father, Edward Glowrey, operated the general store at Birregurra, then hotels at Garvoc and Watchem.

Education[edit]

In 1900 Glowrey came third of 800 entrants in a Victorian State Education secondary scholarship exam.[4] From 1901 -1904 she attended South Melbourne College (SMC), in Bank Street, South Melbourne. She boarded at the Good Shepherd Convent in Albert Park. She matriculated at the end of her first year at SMC and won an Exhibition (scholarship) to study at the University of Melbourne.[5] Since she was too young to go to university, she continued studying subjects at SMC for the next three years.

In 1905 Glowrey completed her first year of a Bachelor of Arts course at the University of Melbourne. She was a student at Ormond College. In 1906, she transferred her course and scholarship to study medicine at the university. She attended the first year of the St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne Clinical School in 1910. She graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1910.[6]

Glowrey later returned to the University of Melbourne to undertake higher medical studies, graduating with a Doctor of Medicine in 1919 in obstetrics, gynecology and ophthalmology.[7]

Melbourne medical career[edit]

Glowrey was reported to be the first woman appointed as a residential doctor in New Zealand 1911, and completed her residential year at Christchurch Hospital.[8]

She returned to Melbourne in 1912. Her medical appointments in Melbourne included positions at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital,[9] the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital.[10]

In October 1916, the Catholic Women’s Social Guild was formed at a well-attended meeting at Cathedral Hall, Brunswick Street Fitzroy.[11] Glowrey was the Guild's inaugural president. In that role, she gave lectures and wrote articles about some of the economic and social problems faced by women.[12]

Glowrey boarded at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital from 1915-1919 and took on many of the medical duties of the male doctors who signed up to serve in World War One. She also had a private practice in Collins Street, Melbourne during these years.[13]

Life in India[edit]

In October 1915, Glowrey read a pamphlet about the life of Agnes McLaren, a pioneering Scottish missionary doctor, and the need for women doctors in India, and felt called to serve as a medical missionary doctor there.[14]

Glowrey discreetly discerned this religious vocation over subsequent years with her spiritual director, Father William Lockington.

Glowrey left Melbourne on 21 January 1920. She never returned to Australia. She arrived in Guntur, India on 12 February. She joined Congregation of the Society of Jesus Mary Joseph [15] and became known as Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart. In 1922, after the completion of her religious training, Glowrey began practising as a doctor-Sister.

The basic dispensary where Glowrey began her medical mission work in Guntur grew into St Joseph’s Hospital.[16] Glowrey provided direct medical care for hundreds of thousands of patients, most of them poor women. She trained local women to be compounders (dispensers), midwives and nurses. In 1943 Glowrey founded the Catholic Health Association of India (then called the Catholic Hospital Association).[17] Today, its 3500 + members auspice the care of more than 21 million annually.[18]

Glowrey died in Bangalore from cancer on 5 May 1957 at 69 years of age.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mary Glowrey was granted special permission by Pope Benedict XV practise as a doctor-Sister in 1920. Members of Catholic religious orders were not permitted to practise as doctors until 1936. Cf. Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide, Constans Ac Sedula.
  2. ^ "Declaration of Dr. Sr. Mary Glowrey as ‘Servant of God ’" http://www.jmjgunturprovince.org/maryglowrey.htm, Society of Jesus Mary Joseph: Guntur Province, accessed 26 July 2017.
  3. ^ Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart,” The Horizon (1 June 1987): 8.
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^ Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: The Autobiography of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart – Dr. Mary Glowrey,” The Horizon (1 October 1987): 8.
  6. ^ Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: The Autobiography of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart – Dr. Mary Glowrey,” The Horizon (1 January 1988): 4.
  7. ^ Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: The Autobiography of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart – Dr. Mary Glowrey,” The Horizon (1 February 1988): 7.
  8. ^ Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing,” (1 January 1988): 4.
  9. ^ Florence Swamikannu, A Nun Revolutionizes: Biographical Sketch of Mary Glowrey M.D. (Somajiguda-Hyberdad, India: Provincialite Society of JMJ, 1972), 77. Cf. Conellan, “Pioneer Medical Missionaries,” 10.
  10. ^ Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing,” (1 January 1988): 4.
  11. ^ Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing,” (1 February 1988): 7.
  12. ^ Gervase McKinna, “Doctor-Sister Mary Glowrey: An Impossible Mission?” Melbourne University Mosaic: People and Places (Melbourne: The History Department, The University of Melbourne, 1998): 101. Cf. Ursula Clinton, Australian Medical Nun in India: Mary Glowrey M.D. (Melbourne: Advocate Press, 1967), 11.
  13. ^ Ibid. Cf. McKinna, “Doctor-Sister Mary Glowrey,” 100.
  14. ^ Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing,” (1 January 1988): 4-5. Cf. Mary Ryan M.A., Dr. Agnes McLaren (1837-1913) (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1915).
  15. ^ Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing,” (1 February 1988): 7.
  16. ^ Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: The Autobiography of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart – Dr. Mary Glowrey,” The Horizon (1 March 1988): 8.
  17. ^ “History,” Catholic Health Association of India: Committed to Bring Health to All (2016): http://chai-india.org/?page_id=45, accessed 28 June 2017. Cf. McKinna, “Doctor-Sister Mary Glowrey, 106.
  18. ^ “Achievements,” Catholic Health Association of India: Committed to Bring Health to All (2016): http://chai-india.org/?page_id=6079, accessed 28 June 2017.
  19. ^ McKinna, “Doctor-Sister Mary Glowrey,” 109.

External links[edit]

  • Glowrey, Mary in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia