The Glenola Club is the women's organization associated with St. Ignatius Parish. Throughout each year, the Glenola Club sponsors educational, cultural, and fund raising events. It continues to enroll women attracted to its spiritually enriching and benevolent activities. The Glenola Club is a non-profit organization, incorporated September 23, 1921 under the State of Illinois for social, civic, educational, and benevolent activities.
Mrs. T. J. Byrne - 1922
In May, 1921, when our parish was only fourteen years old, the women of St. Ignatius Parish responded to a request from their pastor, Rev. D. M. Johnson, S.J., that they continue their fund raising efforts by formally organizing their efforts into a Club. Three months later, on September 23, 1921, the Glenola Club of Loyola Center was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois.
Glenola Club's active membership was drawn from the women living in St. Ignatius Parish. In the early years, women were proposed for membership by an active member of the Club and endorsed by another active member. Today, in a less formal era, any woman belonging to the parish who wishes to join may become a member. Glenola also has non-resident members. Any active member in good standing who ceases to live within a 20 mile radius of the parish of the Club may apply to continue membership as a non-resident member. Glenola Club had- at its peak membership- more than 600 women enrolled in the club- the largest catholic women's club in the Midwest.
A look into Glenola's yearly directory today reveals that we have Glenola Club members living outside the city in Skokie, Wheeling, Mt. Prospect, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Glenview, Evanston, La Grange Park, Morton Grove, Downers Grove and even as far away as New York, Louisiana and Wisconsin.
All past presidents of the club are made life members of the club at the conclusion of their term in office, with all the rights and privileges of the club without paying dues. To date, forty-two women have held the office of president from 1921 to 2003, the Glenola Club president has served two years instead of a one year term.
As the popularity of the Club's programs and parties increased, Glenola branched out offering membership to the younger women of the parish. The Glenola Junior had their own officers, meetings, and events. And- with the passing of the time- the juniors made the transition, crossing over into the senior club. Mrs. Michael Wrenn, 1999-2001, was elected as president both the Glenola Juniors and, later, the Glenola Club.
From the 30s to the 60s, the Glenola Club drew hundreds of ladies to its fund raising bridge parties and raffles and to the heavily patronized Annual Holiday Bazaar- all held in the newly built St. Ignatius Gymnasium.
For many years, starting in the 30s, Glenola conducted its business from the stage of the art deco Loyola Community theatre. After the monthly program was concluded, several hundred members and their guest would walk up the stairs near the entrance of the auditorium to their spacious meeting room overlooking the church bell tower and chapel. Cluster of women gathered in smaller groups to enjoy their traditional post meeting tea.
Money that the whole parish helped the Glenola Club to raise went back to the parish and to worthwhile civic and catholic organizations. In the past 97 years, Glenola has given thousands of dollars to facilitate parish projects and to help individual parishioners and families- especially the children- who needed assistance. Things as basic as food, clothing, eye glasses, rent money, tuition were all part of Glenola's effort to provide help wherever help was needed.
Starting its 97th year in September 2018, Glenola continues to enroll women attracted to its social, civic, educational and benevolent activities. New members in the current year include women newly arrived in the parish as well women with multi generational ties with the Glenola Club.