Papal thank you to Knights and Dames

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Papal awardees Dr John McLaughlin, Richard Haddock and Margaret Somerville with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at St Mary’s Cathedral Chapter Hall on 22 October. Helen Keir was not present but has also been honoured by Pope Francis. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Modern-day heroes honoured for decades of service

A retired judge, a parish stalwart, a company director and an international bioethicist have received papal honours for their service to the Church and society.

Dr John Kennedy McLaughlin, who has served both the NSW Supreme Court and District Court, said he was “tremendously honoured” to be made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory by Pope Francis.

It 
recognises his service in the time since he received a Knighthood in the same order from Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Dr McLaughlin, who has served the Church at his parish, archdiocesan and state levels said that any achievement on his part had “been a shared one”.

Parish priest of St Francis of Assisi, Paddington, Fr Paul Ghanem OFM congratulates John McLaughlin. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

“It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to participate in the works and ministry of the Church,” he said. 

University of Notre Dame Professor Margaret Somerville said it was “surprising and completely unexpected” to be made a Dame of the Order of St Gregory for her contributions to bioethics including her staunch defence of human life from conception until natural death and in the promotion of Christian ethics in public policy.

“It’s a great honour to receive an award from Pope Francis who is universally admired as an ethical world leader,” she said.

Katy and Richard Haddock. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Richard Haddock was awarded a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory for his continuing contribution to the Church and Australian community since receiving a Knighthood in the same order in 2008.

His governance roles in the Church encompass the work of the Sisters of Charity, St Vincent’s Hospital, Catholic Church Insurances, Aid to the Church in Need, the Knights of Malta and more.

Mr Haddock said he felt “somewhat embarrassed” by the honour “when I know so many who do so much more and so unselfishly”.

“Seeing so many groups and people are doing so many good things has strengthened my faith in the Church,” Mr Haddock said.


Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP presented the 
three with their awards at a ceremony in St Mary’s Cathedral Chapter Hall on 22 October while the fourth recipient, Helen Cahill was unable to attend and will receive her medal at a later date.

Ms Cahill was described as a “true pillar” of support both to priests and to the community and has devoted herself for years to several Sydney parishes especially St Joseph’s at Newtown.

Father Stephen Hill and Helen Cahill with her certificate. PHOTO: Supplied

The church organist and liturgy coordinator, RCIA volunteer, former secretary of the parish council and organiser of social functions has been honoured with a Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Last week Archbishop Fisher said it was “a great pleasure” to present the awards to three Sydney Catholics he regards as personal friends.

“These three community leaders demonstrate that we are all called to a Christian 
life of service,” he said.

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