Pope Francis has honoured 21 members of the Diocese of Parramatta with Pontifical Honors, presented on Monday 7 December, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
The honors recognise significant service of members of the Diocese and are approved by the Secretariat of State of His Holiness, Pope Francis.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, in presenting the awards said it was appropriate that the Christian community affirms those, who through their contribution, inspire others. “We thank them sincerely for their discipleship and dedication to building up the body of Christ which is the Church, and especially in this part of the world,” he said.
He explained that 2020 marks 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia, which started with a single school in Hunter St Parramatta in 1820 with 31 students. Catholic Education now educates 765,000 students in 1750 Catholic schools nationally. “We have come a long way,” he said.
The anniversary year was an opportunity to highlight the contribution that certain individuals had more recently played in Catholic Education in the Diocese. Twelve educators were recognised for their outstanding work in Catholic education. Included in that number was Joseph Culican, who at the age of 83, and after 27 years, continues to work as the maintenance person at St Margaret Mary’s School Merrylands.
Four Religious men and women received honours and a further five lay members of the Diocese were recognized for other significant achievements.
Recognition of the arts
A number of recipients received their award due to their work in art, music and performance.
Director of Music at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta, Bernard Kirkpatrick, was honoured as a Knight in the Order of St Sylvester, having had a significant career in liturgical music at highest levels in Australia. His citation made special mention of how he now shares his considerable musical talents with the younger generation of musicians and clergy.
Through the CAPTIVATE performing arts program, tens of thousands of students in the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta have been given learning opportunities in music, dance, drama and the visual arts.
David Russell, who also co-ordinated the liturgical music of WYD 2008 papal ceremonies, is responsible for the artistic direction and operational management of CAPTIVATE. He was honoured with the Benemerenti Medal. Karen King who has worked across a number of schools implementing the arts program was also awarded the Benemerenti Medal.
Mark Hopkins, Foundation Director, introduced CAPTIVATE to every CEDP school in the Diocese was awarded the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. Valda Silvy OAM, with an extensive history leading the arts in Western Sydney at the Penrith Conservatorium, and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, then pioneered creative and performing arts in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Parramatta. She was made a Dame in the Order of St Gregory the Great.
Other recipients included Kevin Mills who has reinvigorated underperforming schools, and Suzanne Walsh, Director of Learning at CEDP who has driven transformational change in CEDP schools.
Pontifical Honours recipients from the Diocese of Parramatta
Knight and Dame in the Order of St Gregory the Great
The fourth highest papal award. Awarded for conspicuous service to the Catholic Church, without regard to religious affiliation
Mrs Cecilia Zammit, for her distinguished services as Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Parramatta.
Mrs Anne Clark, for her faithful and dedicated services to the Diocese of Parramatta through financial management services to the Diocese, Schools and Parishes
Mrs Maureen Sewell, for administrative services to the Church and wider Diocesan Community.
Mrs Suzanne Walsh, for strategic leadership of Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta.
Ms Hilary Johnston-Croke, for her distinguished services to Catholic Education in the Diocese of Parramatta and the wider Australian Community.
Dr Anne Benjamin, for her distinguished service though Executive Directorship of Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Parramatta
Mrs Valda Silvy OAM, for her dedication to the Performing Arts sector and providing opportunities for many students who otherwise, would not have had exposure to them.
Dr John DeCourcy, for his distinguished services to Catholic Education through development of student learning analytics and measurement tools.
Mr Christopher Maley OAM, for his long and dedicated service to the Church through service on parish and diocesan committees.
Knight in the Order of St Sylvester
Mr Bernard Kirkpatrick, for his distinguished services as Director of Music, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice
Very Rev Christopher De Souza EV PP, for distinguished services to the Diocese of Parramatta as Vicar General and Episcopal Vicar of Education of the Church in the Diocese of Parramatta and the wider Australian Catholic Community
Reverend Paul Roberts PP, for distinguished services to Catholic Youth in his capacity as Director of the Institute for Mission and Episcopal Vicar Evangelisation and Pastoral Planning.
Sister Venera Nicolosi OSU, for distinguished services to education and the wider Australian Catholic community.
Sister Patricia Andrew OSU, for distinguished services to Catholic Education and Community Service for the Parramatta and greater western Sydney area
Deacon Nicephorous Wing Ho Tan, for distinguished service to the church in the Diocese of Parramatta and the wider Australian Catholic Community.
Mr Mark Hopkins, for services as Foundation Director of CAPTIVATE – the Diocese of Parramatta Creative and Performing Arts programme.
Ms Patricia Carr, for service to Education Leadership in the Diocese of Parramatta.
Mr Kevin Mills, for distinguished services to Educational Leadership in the Diocese of Parramatta.
Mr Joseph Culican, for distinguished services as an auxiliary member of staff in a Diocesan school.
Mr David Russell, for leadership in Performing Arts, CAPTIVATE, Diocese of Parramatta
Mrs Karen King, for distinguished services to Creative and Performing Arts within the Diocese of Parramatta and the schools in which she has served.
The presentation was preceded by Vespers, led by the St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir. Vespers and the presentation can be viewed here.