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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP last week presented Papal Honours to six Catholics for their outstanding contributions to the Church and wider community.
Tony and Lorraine Grace were made a Knight and Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great, respectively, for their longstanding formation work across three different parishes and in their capacity as Marriage Encounter formators, which took them all over the world.
At the urging of Bishop Terry Brady, they later went on to help in the establishment of the Antioch Movement for youth, which for decades flourished across Australia.
The couple have also been responsible for convening numerous Marian Movement of Priests vigils and pilgrimages to the Marian Shrine at Penrose Park.
Well-known Sydney laywoman Patsy Healy was made a Dame of the Order of St Sylvester for “the outstanding Christian witness, dedication and dignity which she provides” as a funeral director and General Manager of W N Bull (which recently celebrated 125 years of service).
As the official citation noted: “She has enhanced a sense of the sacred when directing the funerals of people from all walks of life, some of whom who had held prominent roles in society.”
Another couple, Robert and Maureen Brian, received the Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Cross for the Church and Pontiff).
Both worked for 20 years in Catholic Adult Religious Education and were involved in Antioch, and both have a long history of visiting the sick and dying with Holy Communion and of offering solace to the grieving.
Robert is an acolyte and has volunteered with several Catholic charities, as well being a (now retired) librarian, a choir conductor and a fine singer.
Maureen, who at one time was training to be a Sister of Mercy and has several religious studies’ degrees to her name, does voluntary pastoral work at St Vincent’s Hospital, is a sacristan and also a voluntary counsellor for Lifeline.
Sr Mary Leahy RSJ OAM also received the Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for the dedication she has shown in ministering to seafarers through the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris).
As her citation noted, she and her Stella Maris bus are familiar sights around the waterfront, where she has spent more than 25 years caring for workers on ships – men who often spend inhumanly-long periods at sea under very difficult conditions.
She came to Australia from Ireland in 1979 and initially trained to be a nurse.
After her profession as a Sister of St Joseph, she worked in nursing at St Vincent’s Hospital until her appointment as Port Chaplain in 1992.
She went on to be a founding member of the Port of Sydney Welfare Committee and a pastoral carer to the Company of Master Mariners, the League of Ancient Mariners, and the Merchant Navy War Memorial Service.