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Catholics recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

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A religious Sister and advocate for women, a Fred’s Van volunteer and two tireless workers for community organisations are just some of the South Australian Catholics who have been included in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list.

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Sister Kate Conley RSM from Adelaide was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to the Church and also to women.

The Sister of Mercy is well known for her inspirational work with women in prison and after their release. Her ministry also saw her working with women in the early days of Catherine House, where she served as a chair of the board and has been a long-time supporter of the organisation.

Maria Donato OAM

Also receiving an OAM in the birthday honours was Maria Donato of Rostrevor for her service to the Italian community.

A member of the Newton parish, Mrs Donato has been involved with the Lady’s Committee of the Madonna di Montevergine group for 50 years, fulfilling the role of secretary for 10 years.

Her extensive work with the Italian community has spanned more than half a century. Always willing to help those in need, Mrs Donato’s service included filling in forms for immigrants; serving and running Italian community clubs; volunteering for various organisations such as Red Cross; being philanthropic for aged care and homeless organisations; leading religious pilgrimages; and participating in the Italian Community Radio for 25 years.

Mrs Mary Dittmar from the Hallett Cove parish received an OAM for her service to the community. Since 2002 she has been involved with Vinnie’s Fred’s Van at Christies Downs and currently oversees the volunteer teams, creates the menus and coordinates the shopping for that service. She’s also part of a cooking team rostered on about once a month.

Robert (Bob) Korotcoff of Dover Gardens has been awarded an OAM for his service to the community. Mr Korotcoff, who is a member of the Brighton parish, has been involved with the Lions Club since joining in 1961 in Cairns. Upon arriving in Adelaide in 1974 he became a member of the Brighton Lions club, transferring to the Marion club in 2003. In 2010 he was admitted to the Australian Lions Foundation Hall of Fame.

Besides his service to Lions, Mr Korotcoff has been involved in many other organisations including as treasurer of the South Western Schools Ministry for eight years and is a past president of the Brighton Conference of St Vincent de Paul.

Also receiving an OAM was Sr Margaret Cleary RSJ who lived in Kensington and served as the Josephite’s Centrewest Regional Leader covering South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Timor Leste from 2014-2020.

Sr Margaret has been a part of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph for more than 57 years, having joined in January 1963 and professed in 1966. Initially trained in education, Sr Margaret ministered as a primary school teacher in several parishes and dioceses in her home state of Queensland.

From 1999 to 2008 she served as Provincial Councillor in Queensland, assisting in the governance of more than 100 Josephites working throughout the state.

In 2008 she was appointed Congregational financial administrator and also played a key role in all the events surrounding the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop, especially in financial matters for celebrations in Sydney and Rome.

Over the years Sr Margaret has served on several boards around the country, including at colleges and aged care homes in Adelaide and on the Archdiocese’s Charitable Trust.

Completing her six-year term as regional leader on March 19 this year, she has now returned to Queensland and is living at Nundah.

“I am honoured and humbled to receive the Order of Australia Medal,” said Sr Margaret.

“I have always wanted to be of service to the wider community and enjoy being able to contribute to the many ministries that the Sisters of Saint Joseph are involved in.

“Mary MacKillop has been and is, such a wonderful inspiration of living life to the full, embracing as blessings, the joys, challenges and sorrows in life with extraordinary faith and trust in her ‘good’ God, whose love for all was shown in her love, openness, courage, inclusivity and deep respect for every person regardless of creed, culture or background.”

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