February 7, 2020
by Briana Grzybowski

In June 1949, Gladys Evans dreamed of starting an organization for working Catholic women in Nashville where they could share faith and fellowship together. She and four other women met with the late Father Leo Siener to discuss their idea.

With approval from Father Seiner and Bishop William Adrian, the Nashville Catholic Women’s Business League was formed. Its first official meeting was at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville on Dec. 18, 1949, with a small group of women, mostly teachers and nurses.
Seventy years later with 113 members strong, the oldest business organization in the diocese is kicking off a year-long celebration of the anniversary of its founding.
The League, which hosts a variety of social and spiritual events throughout the year, is centering all of its events this year on the 70th anniversary celebration.
“For starters, we’re putting together a historical timeline that highlights who we are in relation to the diocese. And a lot of what we’re doing this year is focused on the number 70 theme,” said Teri Gordon, president of the League. “We want to get 70 new members to join and have a 70 random acts of kindness campaign, where we help different local charitable organizations.”
One example of this was the League’s drive in January to collect 70 Kroger gift cards for Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program.
The League has also been a long-time supporter of Catholic education. Since 1998, its Aurelia Varallo Mariani Memorial Scholarship has provided tuition assistance to one deserving freshman student at Father Ryan High School, St. Cecilia Academy and Pope John Paul II High School.
At its Feb. 19 meeting, the League will award the scholarship to this year’s recipients and recognize notable past winners. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Temple Hills Country Club.
In September, the League’s Pearls of Wisdom fashion show and silent auction will raise the funds for next year’s scholarship winners.
Other events this year include a retreat in the spring, setting up a booth at the diocesan Catholic Women of Faith Conference at St. Philip Church in Franklin on Saturday, March 28, and a women’s business expo in April which will feature several women-led and owned businesses and social service organizations.
“The business expo is successful every year and something I always look forward to,” Gordon said. “It’s a great way to see all the wonderful things women in our diocese are doing and network with them.”
The biggest highlight, however, will happen toward the end of the year. “Our big event will be in November,” Gordon said. “It’ll be at the Hermitage Hotel, where everything began. We’ll have Mass celebrated by our spiritual advisor Father Michael O’ Bryan, followed by a reception. We really want to pay tribute to our organization’s rich heritage and are very excited.”
She strongly encourages all women who are interested in joining the League to sign up. “If you’re a working or retired Catholic woman who’s looking for other women who share the same Catholic values, and want to grow spiritually and intellectually, you’re welcome here,” Gordon said.
“I remember one time a new member came to her first meeting and absolutely loved it. She told me afterwards, ‘I have found my people.’ And I feel the same way,” Gordon said. “I’ve made so many great friends through the League and have grown so much personally. I couldn’t recommend this more.”
All working and retired Catholic women ages 18 and up are eligible to join. Those who are interested in participating in any of the anniversary activities or becoming a member can visit the League’s website at

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