Pat Parker Benemerenti Medal Presentation

24th May 2005. Archbishop Kevin McDonald presents the Benemerenti Medal to parishioner Pat Parker.

The Benemerenti medal was instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, their families and community. It has the word benemerenti (to a well deserving person) on its face, surrounded by a crown of oak leaves.

After the event, Pat said “It was a great honour for me to receive the Benemerenti Papal Medal and Certificate at the end of the special Mass in Our Lady Immaculate Church on Tuesday evening.” The presentation was made by the new Archbishop of Southwark, Kevin McDonald, on his first official visit to the parish. He was here at the invitation of the Knights of St Columba of the Surrey Province to celebrate the annual Mass for their deceased members. Concelebrating with the Archbishop were Fathers Anthony Charlton, Chris O’Brien, Michael Perry (Chaplain of Godalming Council of the KSC), and also Canon Anthony Ford (former Parish Priest at Tolworth). Deacon Rev Fred Carter, Surrey Provincial Chaplain, was also present.

In making the presentation at the end of the Mass the Archbishop acknowledged with gratitude the work he had done for the parish and diocese over more than 30 years including his role as a Foundation Governor and Chairman of Richard Challoner School in New Malden (1990 – 2000).

The Certificate accompanying the Medal, signed in the Vatican during the closing days of the life of Pope John Paul II, is dated 11 February 2005, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. By coincidence, it was the anniversary of the date he became engaged to his late wife in 1957.

Pat says “In September 1988 we had the great privilege of meeting and shaking hands with the late Holy Father during his weekly audience in the Vatican during a pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome.”

About 200 people were present at the Mass. They included Knights from across Surrey and their wives together with widows of some of the deceased Knights. A goodly number of parishioners were also present. Pat said “On behalf of my brother Knights in Tolworth, who hosted this year’s Mass, I should like to thank everyone who helped to make it such a memorable occasion. This includes the servers, under the competent direction of Jacques Lambert who succeeded me as Parish Master of Ceremonies in 1998, the organist Andrew Richardson, and also the ladies of the UCM who served refreshments in the hall afterwards. On a personal note, through the medium of this Parish News, I should like to thank everyone who has sent me messages and cards of congratulation. Also to Father Anthony and all those who (unknown to me) were instrumental in putting my name forward for this great honour.”