Paul and Janette Sorensen have been awarded the Benemerenti Medal for their 48 years of service to St Francis Xavier parish in Whangarei.

Paul and Janette Sorenson with their Benemerenti Medals.

The Sorensens said they were surprised to receive the recognition and were stunned by the appreciation expressed by their community when the award was presented to them on November 16 during 10am Mass. They
were given resounding applause and a standing ovation.
“That was a hugely memorable part of what has happened here. It was an extraordinary moment. We want to express our wonderment at the whole thing. It was like we could have been in heaven then,” said Mr
Mrs Sorensen added that it took them some time to process the whole experience. “Why should we be singled out for the honour? The honour should go to the whole parish,” she said.
The Benemerenti Medal is an honour awarded by the pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Church.
Mr and Mrs Sorensen have been involved in the parish’s RCIA programme. Mrs Sorensen’s involvement has lasted for 27 years now while Mr Sorensen left the programme 11 years ago to concentrate on his music
ministry. He is still the parish’s musical director.
Mrs Sorensen also volunteered in pregnancy counselling and teaching natural family planning, and was involved with the charismatic renewal movement.
Mr Sorensen said they were very humbled by the award. “It caused us to reflect back on our lives. We thought back on all the people who had been part of our lives and who have touched us. Being part of our lives gives the parish a reason and a right to share in this honour,” he said.
Mrs Sorensen said the moment will be forever etched in their memories.