Five parishioners receive Benemerenti Medals in Ballyhea
Five parishioners from Ballyhea Parish were honoured at the local St. Mary's Church when three of them received the Benemerenti Medal, awarded by Pope Francis, while two others received a special presentation for services rendered to the parish community over the years.
The presentations were made during Mass which was celebrated by Bishop Crean, assisted by Monsignor James O'Brien, P.P., Ballyhea.
Parishioners Geraldine Egan, Mary Hanley and Eileen Buick received the Benemerenti Medal, which is awarded by the Pope to members of either the clergy or the laity for long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church. Two of the ladies, Mary Hanley and Eileen Buick, are former sacristans of the Church in Ballyhea and Geraldine Egan is presently in that role.
Originally established as an award for soldiers in the Papal Army, it was later extended to the clergy and laity for services rendered to the Church. Members of the Swiss Guard may receive the medal for three years faithful service at the Vatican.
Tommy and Mary Moloney received their award for their long and devoted service to the care of the Grotto and Blessed Well dedicated to the Blessed Virgin at Ballyhea. The Blessed Well is a popular place of devotion for local people from around Ballyhea, and from Charleville for generations and the tradition of paying the rounds is observed to this day especially during the month of May - the Month of Mary.
Addressing the recipients, Bishop Crean said that the presentations were an acknowledgement and recognition of the contribution to the community, which they have been doing quietly over a long number of years. "It is a way of saying 'Thank You and Well Done' for you generous giving to the community," he said.
Referring to the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis to Ireland for the World Family Gathering, Bishop Crean said that the Pope had made the family the cradle of humanity during his ministry and that Ireland was privileged to be hosting the event in August in Dublin. He urged people to pray for families all over the world and for young people who are facing huge challenges in technology.
The evening ended with a reception for those honoured in the clubhouse of Ballyhea G.A.A. Club, which of course is at the heart of the local community in Ballyhea.