Some people leave you a better person just for knowing them. Kevin Coorey OAM in the Diocese of Parramatta is one of those men.
The consummate volunteer lives and breathes helping others. His charity and patience shine through each moment of his life.
The Medal of the Order of Australia was recently conferred upon him in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to helping others, inspired by his love of God.
It’s not the first time he’s been honoured, nor is it his greatest pride.
“My family has always been rich in religion,” he said, his face beaming with delight in the Catholic faith.
Kevin, now 84, was the ‘baby’ of his Maronite Catholic family from Kfarsghab, Lebanon. His great-grandfather was a Maronite priest in Lebanon.
Kevin has been volunteering with the St Vincent de Paul Society for almost 70 years and gave 47 years of service to St John Ambulance Service.
One of his references for the Order of Australia gave an anecdote demonstrating Kevin’s desire to serve. A clerical error had reduced his age. Kevin explained he did not want to correct it because it added eight more years of service before he had to retire.
“I was getting to the stage that I was enjoying this too much, I thought I can’t give it up. They caught up with me in the end,” he said with a wink.
Another striking event was Kevin’s service during the Granville Railway Disaster.
“That was horrible. When they virtually had everyone, I went up the top where they had a mortuary set up. They were bringing bodies up in bags. It was very distressing but that’s the things you’ve got to put up with.”
At the time, Kevin worked locally in Parramatta and immediately began assisting people, forgetting to apply for permission to volunteer at the disaster.
His other awards include Life Membership of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Officer and Service Medal of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem and the Diocese of Parramatta Medal of Honour.
Fr Peter Williams, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia in the Diocese of Parramatta, got up towards the end of a recent Mass at St Oliver Plunkett’s Parish and made the announcement that Kevin had been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
“I wondered, what’s he going on about, my hearing aids play up, and everyone starts clapping. I felt so embarrassed,” Kevin said.
Saving lives on first aid duty during major events was also very satisfying, especially when people would get in touch afterwards.
Watching Kevin’s beloved Parramatta Eels play for free was a bonus, as well attending the race meets at the Sydney Turf Club at Rose Hill.
Today Kevin is proud of the next generation, to which he passes on his wisdom. George Stanton, seminarian in the Diocese of Parramatta, is a young cousin of Kevin. “He’s a good young man,” Kevin said.