Sister of St Joseph, Mary Leahy, was among a group of six Catholics presented with Papal Honours for their outstanding contributions to the Church and wider community, The Catholic Weekly reports.
Sr Mary received the Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for the dedication she has shown in ministering to seafarers through the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris).
As her citation noted, she and her Stella Maris bus are familiar sights around the waterfront, where she has spent more than 25 years caring for workers on ships – men who often spend inhumanly-long periods at sea under very difficult conditions.
She came to Australia from Ireland in 1979 and initially trained to be a nurse.
After her profession as a Sister of St Joseph, she worked in nursing at St Vincent’s Hospital until her appointment as Port Chaplain in 1992.
She went on to be a founding member of the Port of Sydney Welfare Committee and a pastoral carer to the Company of Master Mariners, the League of Ancient Mariners, and the Merchant Navy War Memorial Service.
Tony and Lorraine Grace were made a Knight and Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great, respectively, for their longstanding formation work across three different parishes and in their capacity as Marriage Encounter formators, which took them all over the world.
Well-known Sydney laywoman Patsy Healy was made a Dame of the Order of St Sylvester for “the outstanding Christian witness, dedication and dignity which she provides” as a funeral director and General Manager of W N Bull.
Another couple, Robert and Maureen Brian, received the Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.
Both worked for 20 years in Catholic Adult Religious Education and were involved in Antioch, and both have a long history of visiting the sick and dying with Holy Communion and of offering solace to the grieving.
The Papal Honours were presented by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
The original version of this story first appeared in The Catholic Weekly.
Photo: Sr Mary Leahy RSJ, pictured far right after receiving her Papal Honour from Archbishop Anthony Fisher (Photo by Giovanni Portelli)