When the Golding Centre commenced as a project in 2000 it came with sixty official Friends. This was a result of the fact that Dr Rosa MacGinley ibvm was a founding member of the Institute of Religious Studies (IRS) which had been established in 1980 by sociologist Dr Carmel Leavey OP following the completion of a national survey of religious congregations in Australia. Dr Leavey was also a member of the National Catholic Research Council directed by sociologist Dr Michael Mason. These developments were a result of Vatican II which highlighted the need for in-depth socio-religious and historical research.
As a member of IRS Dr MacGinley was often consulted by researchers concerning aspects of the history of women religious. This led to the development of a network of scholars and associates from around the country as well as the holding of small conferences and the circulation of a biennial Newsletter. By 2000 Dr Leavey was retiring and the Friends of IRS were alarmed! They was consoled by being informed that IRS was to be the basis of the Golding Centre Project and also by the reception in November 2000 of a Newsletter titled Australian Catholic University Project for Research in Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality.
To underline the fact that the Golding Centre was not focused only on women’s religious history but on the wider field of women’s history, it was important that the third member of the Project Team be a lay woman. Fortunately lay woman Dr Kim Power was able to become the third member of the Golding Centre Team.
Since then the number of Friends has grown. While some of the original Friends have died others have taken their place when, by one means or another, they have become aware of the Centre. Presently there are approximately 200 Golding Centre Friends.