IT'S true that the scrumptious morning and afternoon teas served up on fine china are a main attraction when Catholic Women's League members meet up.

Underlying the friendship and conviviality of the get-togethers, however, is a deep commitment to community service and helping others in less pleasing circumstances.

Aligned with St Mary's Parish, the CWL Ipswich branch (until 1974 called the Catholic Daughters of Australia) celebrated an important birthday this Thursday, its 60th.

Branch patroness Clare Conway was practically born into the league, with her mother Margaret McNamara being a founding member.

Clare thinks back fondly on the times the CWL ladies would cater on an industrial scale at the Ipswich Show and for glittering dances.

At the start, membership stood at about 100.

That's dwindled to 42 this year, in an era when younger women go out to work full-time or tend to think, "I'm not old enough yet to join".

Bridge afternoons once a fortnight are a mainstay of CWL sociability.

"Anyone can join. We've got two 95-year-olds," Clare said.

Pat Minz, currently branch president, joined in 1999.

"They talked me into it," she jokes. "It's lovely to have friends you can relate to and talk to.

"We give money to good causes.

"Our fundraising efforts (this year) included a sell-out theatre night and supper at the Incinerator Theatre, the ever-popular fashion parade and afternoon tea, and our new venture, the house craft stall."

A glance at the president's report to be presented at today's AGM shows that CWL funds have been handed out to Ipswich Hospice, St Vincent de Paul, the Motor Neurone Disease Association and St Mary's Parish.

Member in charge of finances, treasurer Agnes Byrne, said the annual luncheon was a high point of this year's diamond anniversary celebrations.

"We expect about 80 people to lunch.

"We've got people coming from Redcliffe and the Sunshine Coast."

A display of historic memorabilia and photos has been set up at the luncheon venue - CWL House, 35 Waghorn St, Ipswich.

CWL Ipswich branch meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month, after the 9am Mass at St Mary's.


ADDRESSING social justice and ethical questions is a primary aim of The Catholic Women's League of Australia.

Members seek to influence legislative and administrative bodies to preserve the dignity of the human person.

"We strive to be a voice for the voiceless," they say.

Affiliated with the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations, the CWLA works with five million women in more than 60 countries to promote the presence, participation and co-responsibility of Catholic women in society and the church.

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