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Medals recognise rural parishioners


The work of Catholics serving rural communities in South Australia has been recognised with the awarding of two of the three 2017 Archbishop’s Medals to women in country parishes.

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Elizabeth Smyth, from Millicent parish, was recognised for her service to parish life and Sue Virgin, from Northern Light parish, received the medal for service to the community of the Archdiocese.

The third medal, recognising young people for their outstanding contribution to the life and mission of the Church, was awarded to Henley Beach parishioner and Antioch member Mary-Anne Maio.

The medals were presented at the annual Archbishop’s Awards garden party where all parishioners nominated for their service to the Church were acknowledged.

Elizabeth Smyth

A convert to Catholicism in 1987, Mrs Smyth has been a member of the local RCIA team since 2000, mostly as coordinator, and is a founding member of the MacKillop Christian Life Community which has been meeting for seven years.

Even before her conversion, Mrs Smyth always supported her family in their faith, including taking RE classes after Sunday Mass and leading children’s liturgy.

Her active parish involvement includes assisting in the organisation of pilgrimages, fundraising dinners and the annual parish magazine. A graduate of the four-year Rural Ministry Formation program, Mrs Smyth has served on the parish pastoral council in various capacities for many years and is the current chair.

Mrs Virgin, of Tanunda, has shown committed service to the liturgical life of the Northern Light parish. As a religious educator of children, she is involved in preparation of sacraments, organising workshops, planning ceremonies, arranging the printing of booklets and ensuring music is prepared.

Through her efforts parishioners are engaged as prayer partners for candidates, and parents and candidates are encouraged to develop their place in the faith community.

Mrs Virgin also supervises the children’s liturgy, often leading the sessions herself. She is a major contributor to the success of Easter ceremonies, being involved in ensuring there are volunteers to take on the various roles and preparing the church for the different liturgies at this time.

In her nomination, Mrs Virgin was described as “very knowledgeable and committed to her faith, but also very gentle in the manner in which she exercises her various roles of leadership”.

Mary-Anne Maio

Mary-Anne was described as an “outstanding role model to young people in our Archdiocese because of her commitment to the teachings of the Church, her leadership of young people and her commitment to the principles of social justice”.

She was praised for her dedication to serving the Henley Beach parish and her involvement in the Antioch youth group.

Mary-Anne, 24, has been using her social media skills to promote parish and Church events through the Adelaide Archdiocese’s Find a Mass app and has volunteered as a journalist with The Southern Cross and a co-host on ArchD radio. She also assists in the organisation of Pub Theology.

With a passion for social justice, she participates in numerous local and national youth activities and was attending the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney when the awards were presented. Her mother Francesca received the medal on her behalf.

Principal of Aquinas College, Brother Paul Gilchrist, received an award for service to the community of the Archdiocese. Br Gilchrist, a past principal of numerous Marist schools and joined the Aquinas community in 2014. He devotes his time to the care, welfare and oversight of tertiary residential students and is the only Religious in this role in the diocese.

He says a weekly Mass for students and attendance, which is voluntary, is at nearly 100 per cent. The students prepare the altar and arrange the hymns. The college also takes part in a number of sporting activities and Br Paul can always be found attending these events, supporting the students and using the opportunity to connect with them.

Other Archbishop’s Award recipients will be featured in the March edition of The Southern Cross.



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