Bishop Barry, Fr Kevin, Fr Michael, ladies and gentlemen,
I have only come to know Carey over the past few years, while we have both been on the Parish Council. Prior to that I had seen him at mass but had not fully realized the extent of his role and participation in the parish liturgy.
Many of you may not be aware that Carey is at the Vigil and Sunday masses every week – usually an hour beforehand – often in prayer, but always ensuring that everything is organized, and everyone is there – enabling us to celebrate the eucharist with the reverence and beauty he knows it deserves.
It is always calming to know that there will be a word or a nod to support, direct & guide – for church welcomers, readers, altar servers, collectors, those in the offertory and procession, ministers of the eucharist. When speaking with Dennis Currie, our music director, he told me how reassuring it is to know that Carey will give him the right answer to any necessary question – no fuss or hesitation! And as Bishop Barry commented earlier when presenting this award to Carey – visiting priests too are always grateful for Carey’s dignified presence and sound guidance while at Our Lady of Victories church.
If I was asked to describe Carey, many words would come to mind – prayerful, unassuming, dedicated, knowledgable, calm …
But one that seems to fit him best is : STEADFAST
To be steadfast is to be firm and unwavering
Carey is steadfast in his prayer, in his faith, and his life
A number of years ago, Carey traveled (at his own expense) to take part in a formation programme in Omaha in the United States. On his return he worked with Fr John to teach us, and foster in us a deeper understanding and appreciation of the mass and the liturgy. While many of you will be aware of Fr John’s part in this – it was Carey who was taking care of much of the detail – encouraging us through the changes and showing us – as a lay person – how prayerful – and beautiful – liturgy could be.
During Holy Week each year Carey takes Annual Leave from his job at the hospital. During this week, as always, Carey has every detail finalized and every day sorted. His understanding of what is needed, and attention to detail has meant that our priests – previously Fr Kevin and Fr John, and now Fr Michael, are able to focus on their liturgical roles at this time, with complete trust that all will go smoothly.
Last year, Fr John O’Connor, our then Parish Priest, nominated Carey for the Pro Ecclessia et Pontifice Cross. Unfortunately Fr John is not able to be here today because of Sunday mass commitments in his new parish of North Canterbury, but he is delighted that the pope has chosen to accept Carey as a worthy recipient of this award.
This is a significant award and one of the highest honours the Holy Father bestows on an individual. A number are presented for substantial and long-term contributions to parish life around the world, though usually to people who are much older than Carey. It is rare for an award to be made to such a (relatively!) young person, but more importantly to receive it specifically for contributions to liturgy, which is for Pope Benedict the ‘heart of the matter’’.
It is fitting that on the gold cross of his papal medal are the images of Saints Peter and Paul – strong men in their faith: steadfast, and committed.
Carey is a prayerful man whom OLV is blessed to have in our midst. It is no surprise to those who know him, that he continues to remain very humble, and humbled by this honour.
Carey only you know how much prayer, time, energy and dedication you put in each week to ensure our masses and liturgy go smoothly. You have helped to foster in us all a deeper understanding of the mass, and an appreciation of the beauty and reverence that the celebration of the Eucharist deserves.
When Bishop Barry blessed our newly renovated church a number of years ago he said that it was ‘greatly suited to noble and excellent celebration of the liturgy’. Thank you for your part in gifting something so precious to us, and for continuing to do so.
In return, our gift to you must be that we learn from your example: your prayerfulness, your passion for the liturgy, but most importantly your deep faith. Our diocese and our parish are the richer for your presence.
This award ‘For Church and the Pope’ is very much deserved.
OLV Parish Council Co-chairperson