Remarkable Life and Legacy of Sister Doctor Mary Glowrey

Today our Glowrey House students are honouring the remarkable life and legacy of their patron, Sister Doctor Mary Glowrey.

Born in Birregurra in 1887 only one year before the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Colac. She showed academic promise from an early age and received a scholarship to South Melbourne College and also to Melbourne University three years before she was old enough to commence there! Mary Glowrey graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1910 and gained a Doctor of Medicine in obstetrics, gynaecology and ophthalmology in 1916, which was an extraordinary achievement for a woman in those days. She became the first female doctor at Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand and took on many of the medical duties of the male doctors who were required at the front line during the First World War.

In 1920 Mary left Melbourne for India and never returned to her homeland. She joined the Society of Jesus Mary Joseph and, after completing her religious training, Sr Dr Mary commenced her medical mission work in Guntur, providing health care for hundreds of thousands of patients, most of them poor and marginalised women. She was responsible for the building of St Joseph’s Hospital and trained local women to be pharmacists, midwives and nurses. She also founded the Catholic Health Association of India that today cares for more than 21 million people annually. Sr Dr Mary Glowrey died in 1957 at 69 years of age, mourned by her family who she kept in close contact with and leaving a legacy that continues to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Her courage, determination and love for humanity is an inspiration to everyone in Glowrey House and was celebrated with a special liturgy and some fun games.