by PATRICIA BROOKS
TAURANGA — Presbytery housekeepers are usually unsung heroes in parishes as they go about
their duties quietly creating a home for parish priests, but Tauranga has honoured Sue Hennessy, who has retired after 23 years as housekeeper at St Mary Immaculate parish.
To mark the occasion, Pope Francis awarded Mrs Hennessy the Benemerenti Medal.
The medal was blessed and presented by Bishop Denis Browne at Mass for Trinity Sunday, with Msgr Frank Eggleton, Frs Alex Kapiarumala, Robert Sharplin, Deacons Sid Wells and Don
Mrs Hennessy’s husband Steve and her sons Anthony and Peter and daughter Anita were present
to see her honoured by the Pope and her Catholic community.
The Benemerenti Medal, which translates as “well deserved”, was given in recognition of Mrs Hennessy’s 23 years of service to the parish.
Bishop Browne said making the presentation: “We give thanks for Sue’s 23 years of magnificent
service and wonderful hospitality. Sue has a beautiful gift in her living relationship
with God, enabling her to impart her motherly presence to the priests with whom she worked.”
Msgr Eggleton thanked her for the wonderful way she has looked after the priests over the years. He paid a warm tribute to her for the gifts of friendship and hospitality that she extended to the many priests who visited the presbytery, saying her support and her cooking was always appreciated, adding, “Her afghans were legendary”.
A bouquet of flowers was presented to Mrs Hennessy on behalf of the parish council.
Mrs Hennessy said she was delighted to have been honoured but was very surprised. When first told of the honour she asked, “Why me? There are plenty of folk in the parish who have done far more than me. I have loved every moment. Over the years I have made some good friends,
and the priests were great to work for.”