Dempsey Medals honour Sydney Catholics’ outstanding service

William Morris represents the many devoted people who keep our parishes and families thriving.

Throughout his life the parishioner at St Patrick’s Sutherland has cared for his widowed mother and each of his older siblings in their final years, the latest his 103-year old sister Anne.

Several times a week the 97-year-old takes a train to her Ashfield nursing home with a care package for her and to keep her company.

“Uncle Bill never married but he’s devoted himself to caring for other people and the Church,” says his grandniece Jo Danzey.

“For many years he has cleaned the church grounds at Sutherland, counted the money, and visited the sick in their homes.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP presents the Dempsey medal to Sutherland parishioner William Morris. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

“He’s a true gentleman and one of those people you come across so rarely in life, very humble, very giving, and so thoughtful.”

The retired railway worker was the eldest of the 29 recipients of the annual Dempsey Medal for outstanding service in the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The youngest was 23-year-old Jessica Manganaro, an enthusiastic catechist and parish group leader at St Vincent’s Ashfield, who has launched and fostered a group of young adults.

Archbishop Fisher presented the medals during a Solemn Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 29 July.

He said it was a joy to present the recipients with their awards.

Archbishop Fisher and Mike Bailey, executive officer to the vicar general and the chancellor of the archdiocese of Sydney. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

“The Church in Sydney is indeed blessed with so many people who are willing to be the hands and feet of Christ in our city,” he said.

Bill said he was happy that family members were meeting up to celebrate with him but “quite surprised” he was going to receive a special award.

“I just do what a lot of people do in other parishes,” he said.

“You can find the same sort of person in every parish, mostly older people.

“It’s just part of your faith and you do it because it needs to be done. Someone’s done it before you and it seems to keep you going.”

The recipients were a varied group of lay people from across the city, honoured for service within their parish communities or schools or the archdiocese in a host of ministries including liturgical service, prayer groups, RCIA, social justice groups, apologetics or Bible courses, St Vincent de Paul Society, Antioch, social outreach, fundraising, administration, and building maintenance.

The archbishop instituted the Dempsey Medal last year in honour of James Dempsey, an Irish convict who was transported to Sydney in 1802 and later pardoned.

A stonemason, he oversaw the building of Sydney’s first bridge, barracks and hospital.

The Dempsey home was a pivotal gathering place for Catholics of the early colony during the years when there was no priest.

Then when Fr John Joseph Therry arrived in Sydney in 1820, Dempsey assisted him by helping plan, fundraise for, and build the first St Mary’s Cathedral.

For more information and how to nominate someone for an award click here.

Dempsey Medal Recipients 2018

Gayle Anderson, St John Bosco’s Engadine
Rita Azzi, St Michael the Archangel Belfield
Veronica Mary Therese Bishop, Mater Dei Blakehurst
John Barrymore Blake, Mary Immaculate Waverley
Arlette Brown, St Michael the Archangel  Belfield
Robert Brassell, All Saints’ Liverpool
Robert Calilhanna, St Dominic’s Flemington
Tony Carbon, St Augustine’s Balmain
Joseph Cilia, St Anthony’s Austral
Bryan and Janice Coupland, St John Bosco Engadine
Noel Debien, St Joseph’s Edgecliff
Bryan Fitzpatrick, St Joseph’s Rozelle
John Henderson, Our Lady of Fatima Kingsgrove
Pauline Garland, St Patrick’s Summer Hill
Mike Bailey, St Patrick’s, Mortlake
Anthony Jerome Keir, St Francis Xavier Lurnea
Jessica Manganaro, St Vincent’s Ashfield
John Matthews, Our Lady Star of the Sea Watsons Bay
William Leslie Morris, St Patrick’s Sutherland
Mary Helena Pankiw, Sacred Heart Cabramatta
John and Trish Pattenden, St Mark’s Drummoyne
Chehade Richa, Holy Name of Mary Hunters Hill
Julianne Ryan, St Martha’s Strathfield
Timothy Simpson, Holy Innocents Croydon
Norman Yenson, St Raphael’s South Hurstville
Trevor Kenneally, St Mary’s Cathedral
Sue Metzmacher, St Michael’s Meadowbank
Craig Thompson, St Patrick’s Sutherland
Elizabeth Ward, Mary Immaculate Waverley

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