Majellan made marriage

Picture of David Ahern

David Ahern

David is the editor of The Majellan

This is a story about two people who grew up in different parts of Victoria. They had long and separate associations with The Majellan and were destined to eventually meet and marry.  

The story about Leo and Noreen goes like this.


Leo Rawlings was photographed in 1948 for the ‘Tell Them a Story’ column in The Majellan. Leo who was six at the time was pictured with his mother, Nina, and two siblings, Kevin and Maureen (holding a doll).


Tell Them a Story ran in The Majellan from 1950 to 1957.


Leo said the family lived in Ballarat near the Redemptorist Monastery where The Majellan had its origins. “Father (John) Hogan was a great friend of my family’s. He meant a lot to us,” said Leo.


“We had a lot to do with the local parish and I was an altar boy. Father Hogan was a real character. We would go on altar boy picnics to the Burrumbeet racetrack (near Ballarat), and he would go looking for snakes in the long grass. I’m not sure that we (the boys) were as excited to be looking for snakes.”


Father Hogan, a renowned snake catcher, was the first editor of The Majellan from 1949-54.


Leo said the Redemptorist Monastery had up to 60 student priests at that time and many were assigned duties on The Majellan. “Some would collate the pages while others stapled the newsletter together or stamped the envelopes. Father Hogan got them all involved.”


The second part of this story involves Noreen Walsh who grew up in Yarragon in Gippsland. She took out a subscription to the Majellan in 1958 because she wanted a family. So, who better to pray to than Saint Gerard, the patron saint of mothers and expectant mothers.



Leo said Noreen had been a Majellan subscriber for 65 years. “She wanted a family and told me one of the first cheques she wrote in 1958 was for a subscription to the magazine,” he said.


Saint Gerard was clearly listening. Noreen married Adrian Martin, a farmer. They owned a farm at Tamleugh North near Shepparton in Victoria before relocating to Mullaley, west of Gunnedah, NSW. Continuing his farming duties, Adrian and Noreen were blessed with eight children.


Tragically, in the 1980s Adrian died suddenly at age forty-six leaving Noreen to raise her eight children as a single parent. Leo said Noreen did an exceptional job raising the family and today, as a result of her marriage to Adrian, there are 24 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren (a fourth was due in August).


Meanwhile, Leo’s first wife, Ann (nee Brenton), died in 1998. Leo and Ann had a son and a daughter. Leo had been an engineer for thirty-five years but decided to change careers after the death of his wife. And what a change! The former bridge designer bought a coffee shop in the Toormina Gardens Shopping Centre at Sawtell, NSW.


One day Noreen walked into the café with a friend. Leo and Noreen began to chat and according to Leo, “Noreen said to her friend, I’d like to get to know that man (Leo) better.”


Several coffee shop visits later and the rest as they say is history. Leo and Noreen married in 2001 and spent the next phase of their lives travelling around Australia and overseas.



As Adrian had worked on the land, Noreen was pleased three of her sons followed their father into farming. Leo also said it was one of Noreen’s last wishes that a story appeared in the magazine because of her long and fruitful connection with The Majellan.


Noreen, sadly, passed away in February this year.


Footnote: If you have a story to tell about your association with The Majellan please let us know. Write to 2/16 Business Park Drive Notting Hill Victoria 3168 or email:


Feature image: Nina Rawlings and her children, Leo, Kevin and Maureen as they appeared in Tell Them a Story in The Majellan.


Middle image: Leo Rawlings and Noreen.


Bottom image: Noreen and her eight children in 2021 (from L to R): Catherine, Peter, Julian, Angela, Anthony, Xavier, Maria and Anne.


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