They all come from very different backgrounds and have engaged in vastly different works, yet all have helped build up a civilisation of love and faith
Sister Elizabeth Delaney SGS has been a teacher, principal, canon lawyer, vicar and chancellor.
Yet it is her promotion of the Catholic faith across all of her roles over five decades of religious life that has seen her honoured with one of the Church’s highest honours.
The Sister of the Good Samaritan is one of 10 dedicated Sydneysiders presented with a distinguished Papal Award last week.
She said the recognition was “a complete surprise” and very special as [Pope Francis’s] teaching and example “inspires her daily”.
“I have been most grateful to be able to serve at the diocesan level in Wollongong and Sydney …”
“I love the fact that it is an honour of Pope Francis – He is such a wonderful example of service, of welcoming all, of doing whatever is possible to respond to the needs of people,” she said.
“I have been most grateful to be able to serve at the diocesan level in Wollongong and Sydney, at the provincial level with the NSW Catholic Education Commission and at the national level with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
“These various roles have enabled me to have a glimpse of the big picture and appreciate the complexity of issues that church leaders have to address.”
Sr Elizabeth is one of the group of recipients from across fields as diverse as education, philanthropy, finance, health, governance, evangelisation, catechesis, formation or charitable works.
Presented by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at St Mary’s Cathedral’s Chapter Hall, the awards included membership of the Orders of St Gregory the Great, Pope St Sylvester or the awarding of the Croce pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Cross for services to the Church and the Pontiff).
Awarded by the Holy Father, usually upon the recommendation of the bishop of the diocese in which the recipients reside, each was recognised for using God-given gifts and and striving to build up the Church and leave the world a little more compassionate, beautiful and enriched than how they found it.
Presenting the awards, Archbishop Fisher offered his heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to the newly-named knights and dames.
He said it is the conscious efforts of those living out the Gospel in daily lives of faith, hope and love that build up Christ’s mystical body, the Church.
“Today, we’ve heard of selfless acts of service that ten of our relatives, friends and colleagues have carried out in building up God’s kingdom.”
“It’s often anonymous work; it’s often the result not just of individual inspiration but of a team effort with many others; and it is done not for gain or fame but simply out of love for God and neighbour,” he said.
“Today, we’ve heard of selfless acts of service that ten of our relatives, friends and colleagues — all of them spiritual architects or designers, craftsmen or builders’ labourers — have carried out in building up God’s kingdom.
“Their diverse talents have been generously applied to education, philanthropy, finance, health, governance, evangelisation, catechesis, formation or charitable works.
“And as a delightful testament to the graces of matrimony, we have three married couples amongst them.
“Each believes they were only doing what good servants of God and humanity would do; and that there are many others as much or more deserving. Yet in honouring them the Holy Father and the Church of Sydney signals its praise for the work done and invites others to do likewise: it is, you might say, as much for the sake of others and what they might yet do, as it is for these ten and what they have already done.”
Sr Elizabeth Delaney SGS
CROCE PRO ECCLESIA ET PONTIFICE
For her Christian witness and outstanding promotion of the Catholic faith across her many roles over more than fifty years of religious life.
First professed as a Sister of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict in 1968, with her perpetual profession following in January 1975, she has served as both a teacher and principal of various Catholic schools across Australia.
In 2004, having served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Wollongong, she was awarded her Doctorate of Canon Law from the University of St Paul in Ottawa, Canada.
As a result, she was employed as Executive Secretary for the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference; a position in which she served for a decade.
“Foremost among her gifts is a fidelity to the search for God and the service of God’s people.”
She was then appointed General Secretary for the National Council of Churches until 2018, at which time she was appointed Vicar for Consecrated Life within the Archdiocese of Sydney.
A strong communicator with people from different backgrounds and across all age groups accounts for her remarkable success in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.
Foremost among her gifts, however, is a fidelity to the search for God and the service of God’s people.
She is noted as a deep thinker, with a capacity for analysis and exploration that has made her an invaluable asset to the Tribunal of Archdiocese of Sydney.
Mrs Christine McNamee Liddy AO
DAME OF ST GREGORY THE GREAT
For her profound philanthropic contribution to the works and mission of the Church over many years both within the Archdiocese of Sydney and across Australia.
As a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, Mrs Liddy has lent her considerable talents and energy to promoting the provision of essential medical services to the people of outback Australia.
With demonstrated ingenuity and efforts over her twenty-five-year tenure have ensured that items such as aircraft, hangers and housing for personnel continue to be serviceable for many years to come.
Mrs Liddy has also made extensive contributions in the related field of medicine.
“She has also contributed in the field of Catholic tertiary education and served for over a decade on the Council of St John’s College.”
She has been a long time benefactress of the Friends of the Mater Foundation, as well as elected to the Board of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG) in 2007.
She has also contributed in the field of Catholic tertiary education and served for over a decade on the Council of St John’s College, the Catholic residential college of the University of Sydney.
Following a necessary restructure of the Council in November 2012, Mrs Liddy was the only member of the previous body to be appointed to the new Council.
She demonstrated an indefatigable commitment to St John’s and its Catholic ethos through her time on the Council.
Mr John Joseph Carroll
KNIGHT OF ST GREGORY THE GREAT
Recognised for his extraordinary legacy as a faithful Catholic layman, his generosity in serving in a voluntary capacity to those who needed his advice and assistance, and his lifetime of remarkable service to the Church and the wider community.
Born in 1962 and the son of noted Catholic philanthropists Tony and Mary Carroll, is where he learnt the practical aspects of translating the Gospel into the service of others within and beyond the Church community.
Having obtained professional tertiary qualifications, Mr Carroll has spent his life volunteering his services and expertise in financial matters to the Boards of Management of countless Catholic institutions, including an aged care facility run by the Christian Brothers, as well as St Vincent’s Hospital and Australian Catholic University.
“In all his voluntary efforts, Mr Carroll has been admired for his enthusiasm, respectful manner and commitment to whatever challenging task he has undertaken.”
During his tenure at ACU, he was responsible for managing assets in excess of one billion Australian dollars, an annual turnover of $550 million, and a student population in excess of 35,000.
In all his voluntary efforts, Mr Carroll has been admired for his enthusiasm, respectful manner and commitment to whatever challenging task he has undertaken.
A consummate Catholic gentleman, he is a man of deep faith and great personal integrity and his steadfast commitment to the Church, through various trials and adversities, has served as an inspiration to many.
Mr Paul Zammit OAM
KNIGHT OF ST GREGORY THE GREAT
Recognised for his service to the Church and the wider Australian community with extraordinary generosity, wisdom and commitment as a parliamentarian, a businessman, and a Knight of the Order of Malta.
Born in Egypt in 1941, he is the son of a Maltese father and a Greek mother, who migrated to Sydney in 1955 when he was a young boy of fourteen.
He married wife Rita before he began his career in 1973, founding Zammit Sales Pty Ltd which he sold in 1984 to his parliamentary career.
He was elected as state member for the electorates of Burwood (1984-1988) and Strathfield (1988-1996) and federal member for Lowe (1996-1998).
“Through his parish involvement, he has provided hundreds of Christmas gifts for children and for the homeless and he was the founding president and patron of Sydney’s Inner West Eisteddfod.”
In 1998 he left the political sphere and resumed his career in business where he was known as a man of integrity, deep faith, sound counsel and strong principles; defending the interests of disadvantaged or marginalised groups including Indigenous Australians and migrants.
He assisted in hosting a fundraising dinner at NSW Parliament House which raised more than one million dollars for the Matthew Talbot Hostel and worked as a volunteer with the Society of St Vincent De Paul, and at Gorman House, a medically-supervised centre for those who are dependent upon drugs and alcohol.
Through his parish involvement, he has provided hundreds of Christmas gifts for children and for the homeless and he was the founding president and patron of Sydney’s Inner West Eisteddfod.
In 2018 he founded the Catholic Breakfast Group, a quarterly event at NSW Parliament House which features high-profile guest speakers and provides an opportunity for Catholic professionals to network and grow in their faith.
Mr Antonio and Mrs Maria Rita Piccolo
KNIGHT AND DAME OF ST GREGORY THE GREAT
Recognised for their lifetime of work as a Catholic couple of faith who have promoted the Gospel as faithful witnesses of the New Evangelisation across Australia and beyond.
Arriving in Australia in 1977 and having raised six children, they have been itinerant catechists as a part of the Responsible Neocatechumenal Team for Australia and Oceania for more than 45 years.
Their duties entail engaging with Parish Priests and Bishops for whom they offer a service of Christian evangelisation and adult catechesis across thirteen Australian dioceses, as well as parts of Oceania.
More directly, they have worked closely with communities of adults of all ages and ethnic origins, helping them to grow in faith, discernment, and desire to follow the will of God; all within the context of a Christian community.
“They have also been part of the formation team for both seminaries … and have made a rich contribution to the lives of seminarians and priests associated with the Neocatechumenal Way in Australia.”
Drawing deeply on their gifts of the Holy Spirit, their willingness to work in inner urban areas where people are suffering and struggling, and their combined commitment to sharing the love of God with those people, has been inspiring.
Their work has led to the opening of two Redemptoris Mater Seminaries in Australia, one in Perth and the other in Sydney, which produce diocesan missionary priests for the New Evangelisation.
They have also been part of the formation team for both seminaries from their inception and have made a rich contribution to the lives of seminarians and priests associated with the Neocatechumenal Way in Australia.
As people of substance and character, they have participated faithfully in Church life, particularly with their commitment to the work of adult and youth catecheses for several World Youth Day Pilgrimages.
Mr John and Mrs Imelda O’Neill
KNIGHT AND DAME OF ST SYLVESTER
Recognised for their extraordinary efforts to care for the sick and needy, including through the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Auxiliary of Calvary Health Care Kogarah with their joint commitment spanning a combined total of over eight decades.
Mr O’Neill trained in business, and worked in a number of management roles over the course of his career while Mrs O’Neill worked in the insurance sector.
He has served as a member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul for more than 50 years, and while she for more than thirty years.
Mr O’Neill has held executive positions at nearly every level for the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Australia, including as State Treasurer, Vice President, and State President. Over the course of their involvement, Mr and Mrs O’Neill served for many years on the Committee of St Mary’s Place, Campsie.
“They have undertaken pastoral visitations at the hospital, offered practical support to the Auxiliary, and assisted with fundraising efforts enabling the purchase of much-needed equipment, especially in the crucial area of palliative care.”
The couple have also devoted themselves to supporting Calvary Health Care Kogarah, a public hospital founded by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary.
They have undertaken pastoral visitations at the hospital, offered practical support to the Auxiliary, and assisted with fundraising efforts enabling the purchase of much-needed equipment, especially in the crucial area of palliative care.
They continue volunteering with the Society of St Vincent De Paul, the Auxiliary of Calvary Healthcare Kogarah and are actively involved at their Cronulla parish.
Dr John and Mrs Julie James
KNIGHT AND DAME OF ST GREGORY
Recognised for their extraordinary efforts to ensure that human life is respected and protected, from conception until natural death, through both their personal and professional lives.
As a young man, John Edward James studied Medicine and then specialised in paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology while Julie James trained as a primary school teacher.
He continues to run an established general medical practice – Lejeune Family Medical Practice – named after Venerable Dr. Jerome Lejeune, a Catholic doctor and geneticist who was renowned for his care of patients, especially children with disabilities.
In addition to their 10 children and more than 10 grandchildren, they welcomed a young woman into their family who fell pregnant while studying in Australia and persuaded her not to abort the child and gave her the support and care she needed.
“On countless occasions, they have provided immediate, practical and personal assistance to pregnant women who found themselves in difficult circumstances.”
They are also dedicated supporters of the 24-hour national telephone support service Pregnancy Counselling Australia, which offers assistance and support to mothers who are finding their pregnancies challenging.
They are also staunch advocates for the rights of the unborn through their committed involvement with pro-life organisations.
On countless occasions, they have provided immediate, practical and personal assistance to pregnant women who found themselves in difficult circumstances, as well as to women subject to domestic violence and other forms of abuse, often taking them into their own home.
Since 2003, both Dr and Mrs James were regular speakers at the ‘Of Life and Love’ pre-marriage program conducted by the Sydney Archdiocese.