Pope honours local Catholic Church members

2010-05-11 00:00

THE Pope has bestowed the Cross for the Church and Pontiff on three long-standing members of the Catholic Church in Pietermaritzburg.

Celia Naidoo along with Patricia and Neville Cavanagh each received a papal award with a golden medal “Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice” (for service to the Church and to the Pope).

The gold decoration, embossed with images of the apostles Peter and Paul, hangs from a yellow and white ribbon and, according to the Vatican, is given to “persons, both laypersons and clergy, who have given service to the church”.

Both Naidoo and Patricia Cavanagh have been active members of the Catholic Women’s League for over 40 years, and each of the women has served as sacristans, charged with looking after specific aspects of their parishes.

Pope Benedict XVI himself sent the recipients of the award a message to “recognise zeal in doing remarkable works.”

“You feel humbled by receiving this award,” said Neville Cavanagh. “You feel as though you don’t deserve the honour.”

Naidoo added that her years of service to the church were not done to gain recognition. “I never dreamed of getting an award,” she said.

“You don’t do these things to be noticed. Instead, you do it to serve the church and its people.”

According to the group, local bishops had recommended them as possible candidates to the Vatican.

“But it was up to Rome to say yay or nay!” said Patricia Cavanagh.

Along with their crosses, the group received personalised scrolls signed by the Pope.

“It is so beautiful, but it is all in Latin!” lamented Naidoo, laughing.

Neville Cavanagh said it is important for young people to become involved in church activities. “I’m not sure they pay much attention to the church as we did in past years, but it is such an important part of life, especially for youngsters,” he said.

Naidoo agreed, saying there are various forms of need in any church.

“There are so many different ministries people can become involved in,” she said.

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