On Wednesday 12 July, the Archdiocese of Liverpool Education Department held their annual thanksgiving Mass at the St Margaret Clitherow Centre.
The Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, recognised those working in education throughout the Archdiocese who have retired this year.
The Mass was also attended by students from St John Bosco Arts College, as well as other people within the archdiocese.
During the Mass, former diocesan school worker Cath O’Leary was presented with a Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice – which translates as For The Church and the Pontiff. The honour is a decoration of the Holy See, which is given for distinguished service to the Catholic Church by lay people and clergy.
Cath worked at the archdiocesan offices until her retirement back in April. Before then, she spent many years working in Catholic Education throughout the archdiocese.
In total, Cath spent 40 years working in Catholic Education in a variety of roles. She served as a teacher, headteacher, governor and in the council, before moving to the Education Department at the archdiocese.
When she was given the medal, Fr Sean Riley, who concelebrated the mass, read a letter from the Vatican.
He said: “The insignia of the Venerable Cross, established for those who are distinguished in their outstanding work and zeal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice –for the Church and the Roman Pontiff.
“At the same time, granting her the faculty of being decorated with the said gold medal.
“From the Vatican on 3 May 2023, signed Monsignor Roberto Campisi, Assessor (for general affairs) Secretary of State.”
Cath was then presented with the medal by Archbishop McMahon.
Upon receiving her award, Cath said: “I was totally unaware that I was to receive any sort of award. The secret was well kept!
“At the Mass I was aware that there would probably be some mention of me. However, I was stunned, shocked and very surprised to be given such recognition.
“When I had time to absorb all that had happened, I was very honoured that my workover the years was seen to be worthy of such recognition. All that happens in education is because of the collaboration and positive teamwork of all concerned. This award recognises all those partnerships and I thank everyone I have worked with throughout my career who have made this possible.
“What does the future hold? I am not sure. I am not a planner. I like things to evolve naturally. I am however still involved in schools in various capacities and this together with more time to devote to family and recreation will be welcome.
“I would like to express my appreciation to all involved in enabling me to receive this award. It means more than I will ever be able to express.”
Director for Education Joan McCarthy added: “It was an honour to see Cath receive the medal.
“It’s a testament to all her hard work in Catholic Education over the years, both in the archdiocesan offices, and around the different schools she has worked at.”