Balldale Majellan Group 1974 – 1994



Photo: Monsignor Michael Lane, founding Spiritual Director

[The items presented here transcribed are from the booklet Balldale Majellan Group 1974-1994. It was produced for the 20th Anniversary of the Group.]


by Monsignor Michael F. Lane

It was very interesting, indeed exciting news, to be reminded by Mary Lavis that the Balldale Majellan Group is not just a distant memory of former happy times. Far from that it is an active, living reality in its twentieth year and is busy making plans that will bring its influence into another century.


What an extraordinary band of women this is. In numbers at the most ten to fifteen, they are busy rural wives and mothers interested in all that concerns the land, weather, crops, sheep, cattle, how to make life more comfortable for their husbands and children, but possessing a spirit that marks them out as far above the ordinary. What is it?


We do not go astray when we identify the driving force animating them as the Holy Spirit.

This it is what brings them together making up for their differences, welding them together in peaceful and ever closer unity. This it is what makes it possible to go on year after year doing ordinary things, as St Therese of Lisieux used to say, ‘extraordinarily well’.


So it was that the most looked-forward-to part of their get-togethers was always the celebration of the Mass. Hence a succession of gates to be opened, dusty or muddy roads to be endured, hot or cold weather to be encountered, but all this led to what a wonderful welcome!

First of all there were noisy dogs, scuttling occasional hens, then the bright faces and pleasant, cheerful smiles of all those young and old who were assembling for the meeting, and the senses could detect that the women were living up to their culinary reputations. You can be sure of this, even today, if you take a glance through the collection of memories and recipes that make up this booklet.


No doubt, it is the little things that really matter in our lives. The women making up the Balldale Majellan Group gave more than they thought to their group, and indeed the whole district. Did not the Lord assure us, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, that am I in the midst of them”?

In this spirit may the Balldale Majellan Group continue to flourish!

– Monsignor Michael F. Lane.

[Footnote: Monsignor Lane died in the Home of Compassion, Wagga, on August 1st 1995. He was Parish Priest of St Mary’s Corowa from 1945 until 1981 – 37 years. He retired in Corowa, and served as Assistant Priest for a further four years. He  is buried in the Corowa Catholic Monumental Cemetery.]

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By Mrs Marie Ford

Image (2)

Mrs Marie Ford – Foundation Member

A strong community of Catholic Women, made the advent of the Balldale Majellan Group inevitable.

This strength, along with the support and guidance of Monsignor Lane, and the other priests of the district, has ensured the success of the group during the last twenty years (Marie is writing in 1994).


The Balldale Majellan Group provides an avenue for Catholic Women, particularly mothers, to learn more about their faith, and to find a unique network of the support and friendship within their rural community. It would be fair to say that in this capacity the Majellan Group guides the development of many local families.


The activities of the group’s meetings – particularly home Masses – discussions about contemporary issues, a social get-together, a good laugh and, of course, the beautiful smorgasbords, all help to make every Majellan Day thoroughly enjoyable.


The Family Gatherings that have become part of the Balldale Majellan are special occasions. I recall fondly such times as New year’s Eve Celebrations – a night where Mum and Dad and all the family could enjoy the company of each other and their friends.


The true success of the Majellan, however, is evident in the fact that the spirit of the group surfaces in the everyday lives of its members and their families. Thus, a helping hand, or a word of encouragement, is never far away when needed, and a good friend is always ready to share a laugh.

I feel that Balldale Majellan can also be proud of the fact that it is a source of support and encouragement for our priests.


I feel that this book is testimony to the success and worth of the Balldale Majellan. I extend sincere congratulations to all those who have worked towards this publication. This is a tremendous way of commemorating a worthwhile occasion.


All involved in the Balldale Majellan Group can be proud of its stable history. Where other community-based groups come and go, the quality of the Balldale Majellan members has ensured twenty years of solid commitment to a group centred around the Family and our Catholic Faith. Without question this commitment has laid the foundations for the future of the Balldale Majellan.

– Marie G. Ford.

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This book was put together with contributions from past and present members to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Balldale Majellan Group.


The group was formed after Marie and Pat Ford heard of the activities of the Dederang Majellan Group from their sister-in-law, Janine Ford. They felt it was what our young mothers in the Balldale area needed.

After discussing the idea with Monsignor Lane, the local Parish Priest, Marie set about organizing the initial meeting, which was held at her home “Wahroonga”, Balldale on 25th April, 1974.


Original members of the group were Monsignor Lane, Marie and Pat Ford, Isabel Kingston, Maree Seymour, Mary Lavis, Carol Packer, Joan Sandral, Pat, Nola and Sandra Drum.

Monsignor Lane was to be our Spiritual Director, while Marie Ford was elected President and Sandra Drum, Secretary.


Meetings were to be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at members’ homes. Information was gathered from Majellan House, Melbourne, on the aims, activities and organization of Majellan groups. This was discussed and suitable activities for our group planned.


We were indeed fortunate to have Monsignor Lane as our Spiritual Director. His guidance given over the first eleven years is often reflected upon. Other priests also guided the group over the years, among them were Fathers Plunkett, Quinn George, Fulton, Connell, McGrath, Bartlett and Croese.

The home Masses were a real joy, with the little children sitting on the floor in front of the altar.


Our Gospel discussions, led by Monsignor Lane, were a real faith education for our members. Together with the discussions on articles from the Majellan Magazine and other appropriate sources, formed an important part of our group’s spiritual enrichment.

The Majellan Magazine has been a great source of information, help, and inspiration to our members over the years. It has been the policy of the Group to present a two-year subscription to members’ children on the occasion of their marriage.


Many guest speakers have touched on a great variety of subjects, from Holy Land visits, Life of St Gerard Majella, Right to Life, Still Birth and the after care, Palliative Care, Resuscitation, Arranging Flowers, Icing Cakes and Craft Instruction – to mention but a few.

The Group has meant different things to different members, as you will hear throughout this book (i.e. on this webpage).


Over the twenty years our members have come from over a wide area, covering three parishes – Corowa, Howlong and Urana. The distance never discouraged attendance at our mainly daytime meetings. The support and friendship the group offers has been one of the main reasons it is still thriving today.

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YEAR                  PRESIDENT                    SECRETARY

1974                     Marie Ford                    Sandra Drum

1975                     Pat Ford                         Isabel Kingston

1976                     Pat Drum                       Mary Lavis

1977                     Maree Seymour            Isabel Kingston

1978                    Marie Ford                     Clare Packer

1979                    Pat Ford                          Carol Packer

1980                    Joan Sandral                 Carol Packer

1981                     Mary Lavis                     Marie Ford

1982                    Isabel Kingston             Pat Ford

1983                    Carol Packer                  Sandra Drum

1984                    Carol Packer                  Sandra Drum

1985                    Marie Ford                     Marie Tomlinson

1986                    Pat l’Anson                    Marie Tomlinson

1987                    Pat l’Anson                    Marie Tomlinson

1988                    Pat l’Anson                     Sandra Drum

1989                    Pat l’Anson                     Sandra Drum

1990                    Heather McKinley         Mary Lavis

1991                     Heather McKinley        Mary Lavis

1992                    Heather McKinley        Mary Lavis

1993                    Isabel Kingston             Marie Tomlinson

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Opening Prayer to our Patroness, Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The Memorare

Remember, O most loving Virgin Mary, that never was it known in any age that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession was left abandoned. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Do not, O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise my prayers, but graciously hear and grant them. Amen.

Closing Prayer to St Gerard Majella

O Almighty and Everlasting God, who didst draw to Thyself Saint Gerard, even from his tenderest years, making him confirmable to the Image of Thy Crucified son, grant we beseech Thee, that imitating his example we may be made like unto the same Divine Image, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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“Mum’s in a good mood tonight. She’s been to Majellan.” Majellan is something I look forward to each month – the talking and laughter seems to relax us. The meetings are varied to suit us all.  – Heather.

Days of doing what we enjoy. No raising funds. Just helping where we can. Enjoying each other’s company. Twenty years of wonderful memories. – Isabel.

Booklet is continued on “Balldale Majellan Yearly Diary”


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