Sunday 31st December 2023

A while ago we had a community of the Sisters of Christ in St.Bede’s parish. Many parishioners used to attend the regular meetings of the Associates of Christ run by Sr. Marie which helped to deepen their prayer lives. When the Sisters left Rotherham Sr.Marie used to come up from London to continue the meetings often accompanied by her sister Maureen. On one of the visits we were all delighted that Maureen had brought along her Benemerenti medal that she had recently been presented with in her parish.

They are presented by the Pope to members of the Clergy and Laity for services to the Church. They were originally established as an award for soldiers in the Papal army. It is now a civil decoration but may still be awarded to members of the Pontifical Swiss Guards. In 1925 the concept of awarding this medal as a mark of recognition to persons in service of the Catholic Church, both civil and military, lay and clergy alike, became acceptable. Members of the Swiss Guard may receive it for three years of faithful service. The current version of the Benemerenti medal was designed by Pope Paul VI. The medal is a gold Greek Cross depicting Christ with His hand raised in blessing. On the left arm of the cross is the tiara and crossed keys symbol of the Papacy. On the right arm is the coat of arms of the current Pope. The medal is suspended from a yellow and white ribbon – the colours of the Papacy.

I never imagined that one day I would receive one of these prestigious medals. It was a complete surprise and shock when I was awarded one on December 31st 2023. I truly thought the Mass was for Gavin’s 50th. I was a little surprised when he suggested that I wore my favourite suit for the occasion, but he knew how much I loved this outfit. I had bought the fabric in Paris 46 years ago when we were on a family camping trip and I do like to wear it every now and then.

I have attended the 6.p.m. Mass on a Sunday evening in St. Bede’s for many many years so I was quite amazed when I read our newsletter to see that a Mass that had been offered for my son Gavin’s 50th birthday was to take place at the 9.30 Mass not my usual 6p.m Mass. We attended the Mass along with my daughters Julie and Amanda and my Son-in-law Darren.

Gavin and I were privileged to bring up the gifts at the offertory to Father John. At the end of the Mass - Alex Prior - the Lourdes pilgrimage director – spoke a few words about requiring helpers in Lourdes. He began to mention the 25 years I had assisted in Lourdes and then the devotion I had given to my parish of St.Bede’s which has been my only parish for the last 77 years. I was completely shocked when he said I was being awarded a Benemerenti medal. Father asked me to come forward and as I approached the altar I was shaking my head to say no – it seemed a dream and should not be happening to me.

"There are so many people who are more worthy of such recognition. I was overwhelmed. Throughout the day I was inundated with messages of congratulations and good will from parishioners and Lourdes pilgrims that I had known over the years. I am most blessed and thank and praise the Lord and His Mother Mary for being at my side all my life."

  • by Colette Sharp 01-01-2024

Colette was presented with her award after 09:30 Mass.

With Father John & Alex Prior of the Hallam Pilgrimage.

Many parishioners and well wishers congratulated Colette at the end of Mass, all saying it was "Truly Well Deserved."

A wonderful day of celebration for Colette and her family.

The Benemerenti Medal recipient Colette with her son Gavin & daughter Amanda Wassell, both of whom work at St. Bede's School in Kimberworth.

"Dear Colette - You are totally worthy of receiving such a reward and I couldn’t think of anybody better suited. Your commitment and love of Lourdes is outstanding but all that you do at St Bedes is overwhelming: being there making sure that church is open for the weekday Masses and checking the church and locking up after, flower arranging, church cleaning, funeral coordinator (plus catering), checking the graveyard, reading at Mass, sorting out the sacristy plus many other things you do but last but not least - your welcome and willingness to help anybody who enters through the doors of St Bedes. All of this and the same commitment over the past few years when you lost dear Mick and had several health issues ( plus having to pack all my boxes !)
So, congratulations and the photos are beautiful." - Bridget Moran