The Madonna Circle Story

AdobeStock_204240702.jpeg

In 1936, a group of civic-minded ladies joined together in response to a need in the Memphis Community. They founded the St. Catherine’s Junior Club to assist girls from out-of-town working in the “big city” of Memphis and living in the St. Catherine’s Home for Girls. Gertrude Lovitt (Mrs. Lloyd B. Sr.) served as senior advisor for the club and Mary Louise Saxon (Mrs. David W. Jr.) acted as president. Just two years later, in 1938, with a fast-growing membership and a desire to respond to additional community needs, a separate group was organized and chose the name, Madonna Circle.  In 1962 the Circle incorporated as a non-profit.

Ladies in Blue

Members of Madonna Circle wore blue uniforms while doing their works and became known around the Mid-South as the “Ladies in Blue.” As the years passed, the blue uniforms were left behind but the good works of the Circle remained an honored tradition. As membership in the Circle grew, the needs of the community grew as well. In 1996, the Circle incorporated as a nonprofit organization. With a current membership of approximately 335 Catholic women, our focus remains on fulfilling community needs by providing financial aid to a variety of Memphis and Mid-South charities and organizations, as well as providing volunteers at St. Peter’s Manor and St. John’s Jubilee School.

Our Strong Tradition of Fundraising

Madonna Circle has a strong tradition of success in fundraising and since 1976, sponsored the prestigious Memphis Antique Show and Sale. In 1993, it expanded to become the Memphis Antiques, Garden & Gourmet Show. This show brought the finest in antiques, garden and gourmet exhibits and products.  In 1998 the Memphis Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives selected Madonna Circle as the winner of the Crystal Award for philanthropy.  The Circle’s fundraising methods evolved with the times, and this aspect ended by 2011.

The Legacy of Giving Continues

In 1999, Madonna Circle established a new mission statement and methods.  In 2011, the Circle began changing their fundraising efforts with a 75th Anniversary Gala and Silent Auction. The following years saw more change in fundraising format with the presentation of well-known humorist and motivational speaker, Jeanne Robertson.

In 2014, Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) was introduced to members as another volunteer service opportunity.  Through RAOK, members can assist with various local charities, which include Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen and Martha’s Manor.

In 2015, the Circle sponsored “A Table to Toast,” featuring a luncheon with tablescapes by local florists and decorators.  

In 2016, Madonna Circle celebrated its 85th Year of service to the Memphis community with a Mardi Gras Anniversary Gala and the newest fundraising endeavor was launched: the Madonna Circle Sweepstakes, with a total of $10,000 in prize money given away to seven lucky winners,  and grant recipient awarded over $40,000. The Annual Sweepstakes will enable the Circle to fulfill their intention of benefiting a Primary Grant Recipient.

Additionally, a Blessings Fund was established that year to provide for the many monetary and service requests that come from the community. It is the Circle’s intention to be able to answer the call when emergencies arise and offer assistance to those nonprofits, thus fulfilling the mission to improve the Memphis community by stewardship and charity in the gospel tradition.