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Queen honours Catholics in birthday awards

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Chris Rigby, pictured at right with his wife Elaine, received an AM. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Prominent and little-known receive gongs for service

Catholics across the country were recognised for their outstanding service in the annual Queen’s Birthday honours list in fields including health, welfare, education, politics, justice and sport.

Some of the names you know and some you don’t, and while they come from all walks of life, all are united in helping others.

Among some of the Catholic recipients were Joan Moylan, a long-time parishioner of St John Bosco, Engadine, awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the community through the Catholic Church. A former teacher, she has had a long association with the southern Sydney parish as choir leader, lay minister, parish liturgy committee secretary since the 1990s and the parish organist at both Engadine and Heathcote since 1971.

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Sr Adele Howard, a member of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, received her OAM for service to the Catholic Church of Australia and to the community. Her work centres on ecological theology and communications, particularly in implementing Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Laudato Si’ action platform.

Working towards the implementation of Laudato Si’ is my commitment to the Good News,” Sr Adele said. “It’s my fundamental commitment because it is about the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. We can’t care for the planet without caring for the most vulnerable people.”

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has been named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to rugby league and to the community, acknowledging his work supporting parents who, like him, have a child with autism, and raising funds to build facilities and homes for people with a disability.

Sky News host Peta Credlin, who was chief of staff to Tony Abbott when he was Prime Minister, has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to parliament and politics.

The former President of the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce, Michael Rizk, received a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to business and commerce and to the Australian Lebanese community. His service also includes being the immediate past-chairman of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy Council in Australia, and is an advisor to Melkite Bishop Robert Rabbat.

Here are just some of the Catholics recognised:

Former NSW Opposition Leader Kerry Chikarovski was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) PHOTO: Supplied

Former NSW Opposition Leader Kerry Chikarovski said she was grateful for the strong Catholic faith of her parents and education by Mercy Sisters in instilling in her a strong sense of community and service.

She said she was “honoured” to be made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the Parliament of NSW, having served as leader of the Liberal Party in the state and leader of the opposition between 1999 and 2002.

She also said she felt strongly that it was an honour and a privilege to serve her country as a politician.

“Having gone to Monte Sant’ Angelo College, the Sisters of Mercy were very intent on ensuring that we had a sense of our obligation to the community, that idea that God gave you a brain and you need to use it to do things for people that you can help,” she said.

“That is absolutely part of my personal ethos having gone to Catholic schools and being taught by those very strong role models. They never laughed when I told them I wanted to

be a politician at the age of 13 and absolutely encouraged me to do that. I actually had some of them later hand out how to vote cards for me.”

Former CEO of Catholic Health Australia, Christopher Rigby (pictured at top) said he felt both humbled and proud being named AM for significant service to health and aged care organisations.

The bio-ethicist, who is a champion for the recognition of the human rights of people living with dementia and the care of the very elderly and frail, said the award was a “complete surprise and honour”.

“I am very thankful for my Catholic upbringing” – Christopher Rigby

“I feel humbled because I recall the great teams and great colleagues I have worked with and proud because it is an unsought recognition that gives a sense of completion,” he said.
“Looking back I am very thankful for my Catholic upbringing particularly for the Jesuits and the Josephites who played a very significant role in my thinking today.”

Educated at Maitland Marist and St Clement’s College Galong, he was a graduate of the Catholic Institute of Sydney and after a short career as a teacher, moved into health and aged care policy, management and service development; and inaugural director of the John Plunkett Centre for Medical Ethics at St Vincent’s Hospital.

He established the Australian Catholic Health Care Association (now Catholic Health Australia), and at the invitation of religious congregations including the Sisters of Charity, founded Catholic Healthcare Ltd in NSW, expanding it from a single-employee organisation in 1994 to become the largest national provider of aged care services in the Catholic sector with more than 3,000 employees.

He was also CEO of Scalabrini Villages, the largest aged care provider in Australia and CEO of Greengate Villages, a specialist private equity funded aged care and retirement village developer and operator. He said one of his biggest challenges was maintaining a Catholic perspective in the healthcare landscape.

“As the leadership passes from religious women who have dedicated their lives to the care of the poor and the sick to lay people, the culture necessarily changes and maintaining the mission and charism of the religious orders that have given us such powerful witnesses to the Gospel has been the greatest challenge.

“The Catholic Church has a very significant institutional presence in health care and the basis of that success was the response of the orders of religious women to the social needs of the day when government support of healthcare was not so strong. They created such great cultures of care and excellence that the organisations they founded in healthcare are still going strong today.”

Dr Anthony Hasham, above, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). PHOTO: Supplied

Dr Anthony (Tony) Hasham, president of the Maronite Catholic Society of Australia and vice president of the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce, said he was “really humbled and happy” to be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

“We’ve been trying to improve the position of Maronite Catholics in Australia and also since the bomb blasts at the Beirut port last August we have raised more than a million dollars to assist people who were affected,” he said.

“We have helped in the rebuilding of more than 650 homes, in rebuilding shops, assisted 500 students in coming back to school via the generous donations from a lot of community members and others.”

Mr Hasham said that the Maronite community is proud of its young people who are very engaged with their faith and community activities. “I think one of the major contributions that the Maronite

immigrants have brought to Australia is their love of country and their faith in God. We do things without any expectation of getting anything in return but sometimes a sign of appreciation like this is very welcome.”

Dr Hasham received his honour for service to business, to charities, and the Australian-Lebanese community.

Brother Steven Morelli was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
PHOTO: supplied

Christian Brother Steven Morelli was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the indigenous community of the NSW mid-north coast.

The teacher and linguist at the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Cultural Centre at Nambucca Heads has worked closely with Aboriginal communities on the mid-north coast of NSW for more than 30 years to revive and teach the Gumbaynggirr language.

Br Steve as he is known, said he regarded the award as an honour for the Aboriginal people. “They’re the ones who invited me into their backyard and diocese and asked me to support their efforts to revive their language and culture,” he said. “I see this as an acknowledgement by the government of Aboriginal language and culture and the people as being important.”

Christine Howe, deputy executive director of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to secondary education.

Christine said she was honoured and excited to receive news of the achievement. My whole career has been devoted to Catholic education,” she said.

“This recognition of my work in providing excellent learning opportunities for students in Western Sydney means a lot. To share my love of learning with these young people has been a real honour. It’s all about opening doors to support the next generation in making their contribution. I’ve had the privilege to work with amazing educators too.”

To nominate someone special for next year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List visit



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