List of Benemerenti medal recipients

The Benemerenti medal is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Catholic Church.

This list is not complete. It only contains a selection of recipients.

Awarded by Pope Leo XIII

  • William Turner, 1893: for a commentary on St. Thomas's "De Anima".[1]

Awarded by Pope Benedict XV

  • Hilda Beatrice Currie, 1939.[2]

Awarded by Pope Pius XII

  • Maria Augusta von Trapp, 1949.[3]

Awarded by Pope Paul VI

  • Mary John Thottam, 1971 for religious poems[4][5]

Awarded by Pope John XXIII

  • Edward Flannery, 1977.[6]

Percival William Pine 1962 awarded for services to the church in connection with fundraising for the building project of St Joseph's church in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England - source Murray Losco Pine - Grandson (holder of original medal)

Awarded by Pope John Paul II

  • Paddy Crosbie, 1979.
  • Kevin Vincent Kerin, 30 June 1985 in Adelaide, South Australia.
  • Hilda Martinez de Pagan, Maria Teresa Rios, 1987 Catholic University of Ponce, Puerto Rico
  • Dame Maria Amieriye Osunde, 1993.[7]
  • Catherine Ann Cline, 1995.[8]
  • Mario Kreutzberger, 2002.[9]
  • Bob Schaffer, 2003.[10]

Awarded by Pope Benedict XVI

Date Name Rationale
25 December 2005 Edna Heagney Long-standing service as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and for the support of Edna and her husband Tony to the Diocese of Middlesbrough over many years. It was presented to her at Midnight Mass, Christmas 2005.
2006 Hugh Gerard McGrellis Lifetime of service to the Church, most notably as an altar server at St Mary Magdalen's Church, Brighton, Sussex, England for over 70 years.
2006 Michael Francis McConnell His long-standing service as a choirmaster at St.Joseph's Cathedral Dunedin, New Zealand. It was presented to him by His Excellency Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Balvo at the mass for the feast of St. Joseph.
26 April 2006 Henry Raaymakers His service as sacristan of St Joseph's Church, Chatham, Ontario, Canada. The award was presented by the Bishop of the London Diocese, Ronald Peter Fabbro.
17 Dec 2006 Sr. Yvette Lalonde for her continued commitment to the Catholic Church for over 59 years in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
2007 John McCreadie Services to the retired clergy of the Diocese of Middlesbrough, England.
2007 Anthony Brady Services to the community of the Diocese of Otago, New Zealand.
2007 John Lencioni Service to the Church at the Diocese of Fresno, California, US.
2007 Jeffrey Gibbons Exemplary services to St Margaret's Church, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.
2 September 2007 John Brennan Service to Greyfriars Church, Oxford, as organist and choirmaster for more than four decades. Conferred by Bishop William Kenney CP at Greyfriars.
2008 Michael Madden Cork His outstanding service during his 23 years as sacristan of St. Joseph's Church, Riverstick, Cork, Ireland.
2008 William W. Gorman His service during the Pope's visit to the United States.
2008 Kevin Brennan His devoted service to the Diocese of Nottingham training and guiding its Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The presentation was made by Monsignor Canon Thomas McGovern VG on 17 October 2008 at the Immaculate Conception Church, Oadby, Leicestershire, England.
27 April 2008 Peggy Wilding and Olive Hewitt Received the medal at St. Theodore of Canterbury Church, Monkwick, Colchester, Suffolk, England. Both Mrs Wilding and Mrs Hewitt have served over 40 years in the Catholic Church holding posts such as Chairman and Secretary of the Church Committee as well as being lifelong servants to the Church, and even organising the building of the Church in the 1960s.
2009 Richard Gladwell -
2009 Joe Lomasney 53 years service as sacristan of Church of the Immaculate Conception, Araglen in the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland. It was presented by Most Rev. John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne.
2009 John Parnell Murphy Long-time service to the People of God of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. It was presented by Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.
2009 Eddie Power Bishop Eamonn Walsh presented him the medal on 21 June 2009. He had been in charge of the altar server group at St. Pius X Church in Templeogue, Dublin since 1974.
3 May 2009 Charles John Foote From St. George's, Newfoundland, Canada the Benemerenti medal for over 50 years service to the parish of St. Joseph's. The award was presented at St. Joseph's Church in St. George's on 3 May 2009 by Bishop Douglas Crosbie, Bishop of the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador.
29 May 2009 Paul Lyng 33 years service as sacristan of Church of the Assumption in Booterstown, County Dublin, Ireland. It was presented by Mgr. Seamus Conway PP.
13 February 2009 Ada Power For services to the Diocese of Killaloe, Ireland.
7 June 2009 John Parnell Murphy Long-time service to the People of God of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. It was presented by Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.
8 July 2009 Tony McAvoy For his work as a Lay Chaplain in the North East of England with the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris). The medal was presented to him by Séamus Cunningham, Bishop of Newcastle and Hexham, England at the AoS Annual Pilgrimage to Holy Island, Lindisfarne.
31 July 2009 Barbara Conboy, Brigid Hanlon, and John McManus For services to Sacred Heart Jesuit Church, Edinburgh, Scotland.
October 2009 Colleen Stanford Sacristan, St. Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania. Presented by Adrian Doyle, Archbishop of Hobart.
4 October 2009 Patrick Curran 60 years service to the parish of Our Lady Star of The Sea, Greenwich, England. It was presented by Patrick Smith, Metropolitan Archbishop of Southwark.
25 October 2009 Josephine Knowles Years of service to the parish of St Columba's, Tonge Moor, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England. It was presented by Father Francis McCauley.
12 December 2009 Brian Monaghan His devoted service to the Church and community of the parish of St. John the Evangelest, Kilbarrack/Foxfield, Dublin. The medal was presented by Fr. Declan Doyle.
12 December 2009 Tony Wagstaffe Service to the parish of Holy Angels, Ash, Surrey. It was presented by Father David Osbourne.
20 December 2009 Joseph Ryan 30 years of service as Parish Accountant, and other services, to St. Elphege's Church, Wallington, Surrey, England. The medal was presented by Bishop Paul Hendricks.
29 March 2009 Harvey Livingston Former Head of Finance at SCIAF and President of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, for services to the Catholic Church in Scotland. The medal was presented by Faustino Sainz Muñoz, Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of St. James's, on the fourth anniversary of the Pope's election.
10 January 2010 Dennis Selina Lifetime of service to the Church, including 69 years as church organist. The medal was presented at St. Joseph's Church, Pickering, North Yorkshire, England by Fr. Bill East.
17 January 2010 Oscar Pioquinto Batucan and Miriam Alvez Batucan Presented by the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn. This was the first time that a Filipino-New Zealand couple was awarded the medal.
2 May 2010 Donald H Williams From Culloden, Inverness, Scotland received the medal in St. Columba's Church, Culloden, Inverness. It was presented by Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, Scotland.
19 March 2010 John Bannerman From Invergordon, Ross-shire, Scotland received the medal in St. Joseph's Church, Invergordon. It was presented by Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, Scotland, in recognition of 72 years service to the Catholic Church as an altar server, reader, passkeeper and Eucharistic minister.
9 June 2010 Thomas F. Purcell From Hamilton, New Zealand. He was presented the medal by Bishop Denis Browne of The Diocese of Hamilton at St. Columba's Parish, Hamilto.n
12 June 2010 Peggy Moriarty From the Bishop of Kerry, Dr. Bill Murphy, at the Milltown-Listry where Peggy is a parishioner. She received the award for the time spent looking after the Immaculate Conception in Listry, County Kerry, Ireland.
4 July 2010 John Wedgwood From the Parish of St. John the Baptist, in Normanton, West Yorkshire, England, for 72 years of service as organist, school headteacher and several other roles. The medal was presented by Canon Peter Maguire.
2010 Michael M. F. Kummer From Stuttgart, Germany, in recognition of his outstanding service over more than 25 years for the Catholic military communities in different countries and especially to the German-speaking parish, Sankt Marien, in Bangkok, Thailand.
12 August 2010 Sheila Miller, Elizabeth Turner, and Ann Hamilton During a mass held at St. Anthony of Padua, Rye, East Sussex, England. The medals were presented by Bishop Kieran Conry and were awarded in recognition of long and exceptional service to the Parish, stretching almost 80 years.
12 July 2010 Matthew Yu Min-Teh For his exceptional Christian commitment and leadership during his presidency at Providence University, Taichung, Taiwan. The medal was presented by the Bishop of Taichung, Martin Su Yao-Wen on 15 September 2010.
4 September 2010 Patricia Mundy and Joe Davies On behalf of the Bishop of Shrewsbury, England by Parish Priest Father Stephen Dwyer, assisted by Papal Knight Peter Smith K.S.G., who presented the medal. Joe Davies was awarded the medal for his years of devoted service to the priests of the parish; Patricia for her 19 years of service as a voluntary worker as Manager of Parish Centre and her years of Service to St. Joseph's Parish, Winsford in Cheshire.
7 November 2010 David Risk For years of dedication to the St. Charles Borromeo parish.{where} The Medal was presented by Cardinal Mahony.
6 December 2010 Titus M. Verzosa For his 17 years of dedicated service and leadership as a choir director, a finance council member, and a coordinator of several fund raising events for St. Mary Queen of Apostles parish in Fresno, California, US. The medal and the accompanying certificate were presented to him on 20 February 2011 during a Sunday Mass by the parish priest Fr. Timothy N. Cardoza.
11 December 2010 Mary O'Donoghue It was presented on behalf of the Archbishop of Westminster, England by Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Holy Souls, Kensal Town, Father Shaun Church. It was awarded for dedication to the parish over 31 years.
27 December 2010 Miss Mary Burn-Murdoch Her work in founding the Colmcille Trust and establishing the Catholic House of Prayer Cnoc a' Chalmain on the Isle of Iona, Scotland. The medal was presented to Mary by Bishop Joseph Toal during Mass at St Joseph's, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.
5 January 2011 Lady Nora Mai Daly From Gortdarrig, Headford, County Kerry, Ireland for her 32 years as sacristan to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Catholic Church, Shrone. The Medal was presented by Bishop Bill Murphy at a vigil Mass at Shrone church. Fathers Larry Kelly & Michael O'Connor also presided.
8 January 2011 Mrs Anne Culleton From Piercestown in Wexford, Ireland, in recognition of a lifetime of contribution to community and parish life in Piercestown. The medal was presented to Anne by Bishop Dennis Brennan during Mass at St Martin's Church in Piercestown on Sunday.
30 January 2011 Sr. Agnes Murray and Sr. Maura Fay From Ballymahon, Co Longford, Ireland in recognition of their contribution to music and singing in the liturgy over many years in the Parish of Shrule, (Ballymahon). The medals were presented to Sr. Agnes and Sr. Maura by the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Dr. Colm O' Reilly during Mass at St. Matthew's Church, Ballymahon.
27 February 2011 Sheila Ratcliffe From Shaftesbury, Dorset in recognition of her outstanding contribution as Sacristan to the church of The Most Holy Name and St. Edward King & Martyr in Shaftesbury for almost 30 years. The medal was presented to Sheila by Fr. Dylan James after Mass.
17 April 2011 George M. Serban From Bakersfield, California, US, in recognition of his outstanding dedication to "Faith, Family & Friends" in lifelong service to St. Francis Catholic Parish, Bakersfield California. Married to Rita M. Serban for more than 50 years they have served the Church with dedicated and unfailing love and self-sacrifice. The medal was presented to George by Msgr. Craig Harrison pastor on Passion Sunday Mass, in the presence of his entire family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchild.
15 May 2011 May McGarrity From Oxford, England, in recognition of her contributions over 65 years as church organist and school governor. May started to play the organ aged 17 at St Patrick's Yoker, Glasgow and has been organist and choir mistress to Corpus Christi Church Headington, Oxford for over 50 years. She served as governor to St. Joseph's RC School Oxford for 38 years. The medal was presented to May by Fr. John Baggley after Mass.
10 July 2011 James Ward From Stoke-on-Trent, England in recognition of his lifelong work for the Church and the local community. Jim has served the community as a Justice of the Peace for more than 20 years and also as President of Newcastle Players (an amateur dramatic group). His service to the Catholic Community has included being organist at "Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent", for 40 years, and organising the annual Carol Service attended by the Lord Mayor since 1982. The medal was presented by Bishop David McGough, Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
30 August 2011 José Frances Keen In recognition of a lifetime of service to the community and her contribution over 50 years as a founder member of the St. Columba's Foundation of the Union of Catholic Mothers, Chesham, Buckinghamshire. The medal was presented on 27 November by Father Patrick Bailey following a mass and during a reception celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the St. Columba's Foundation in the diocese of Northampton, the group's first meeting having been held on 19 January 1961.
2011 Margaret White Volunteer Sacristan to the chaplaincy team at Bethlem Royal Hospital, (Beckenham, SE London, England). The medal was presented by Bishop Pat Lynch. A thanksgiving service was held at the Bethlem chapel for Margaret and was led by Bishop Lynch—the first ever Catholic Bishop to visit the Hospital. The Pope awarded Margaret the Benemerenti medal in recognition of her generous work and commitment to the Bethlem chapel over nearly 15 years.
2011 Mary Cavan Retired Office Assistant of the Knights of Saint Columba, Glasgow, in recognition of her 46 years loyal service to the Order.
17 December 2011 Mr. Eugene Tumelty Recently retired as headteacher of St Bernard's School, Barrow, for over 30 years of service to Catholic education in St. Berard's. The medal was awarded by Rev. William Glasswell at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Dalton-in-Furness.
20 December 2011 Jean McGuigan For her 49 years of dedicated and loyal service to the parishes of St. Joseph's and St. Patrick's in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The medal was awarded by Fr. Michael Sheehan, at St. Patrick's Church and was followed by a reception in her honour.
11 February 2012 Lyn Braithwaite From Palmerston North, New Zealand in recognition of her 58 years' devoted service to Our Lady Of Lourdes Parish. Medals were also presented to Judith and Martin Wall, who have loyally served the parish for 50 years. The presentations were by Bishop Peter J. Cullinane at Mass at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church on Saturday 11 February 2012 (appropriately, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes). This was followed by a parish reception to mark their commitment, as well as the 60th anniversary of the parish and also the retirement of the bishop.
5 February 2012 John and Anna Feldberg From Rongotea, New Zealand, in recognition of long and exceptional service to the Rongotea Catholic community. The medals were presented by Bishop Peter J. Cullinane at Sacred Heart Church, Rongotea.
20 May 2012 Sheila Stacey From Markfield, Leicestershire, England, in recognition of her long service as teacher, governor and chair of governors (St Clare's RC primary school, Coalville, Leicestershire). The presentation was made at Mass at the parish church St Wilfrid of York, Coalville on Sunday 20 May (the feast of the Ascension), by headteacher Mrs. Jane Monaghan and chair of governors Mrs. Sarah Noon, with parish priest Fr. Colin Patey.
29 April 2012 William (Bill) Cahill From Gloucester, England in recognition of his long service to the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Churchdown, Gloucester. The presentation was made after Mass by Father Kevin Hennessey.
24 June 2012 Giovanni-Battista Marseglia From Watford, Hertfordshire, England in recognition of long service and contribution to the music ministry of the Parish of the Sacred Heart and St. John the Evangelist, Bushey and the broader diocesan community. The presentation was made at Mass on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, in a service concelebrated by Parish Priest Fr. Jim McNicholas, his predecessors Fr Guy Sawyer and Fr. Michael Markey and Chaplain to St Michael's Catholic High School Fr. Uchenna Odenigbo
21 July 2012 Paule Szczech From Wembley, Middlesex, England in recognition of long service to the Parish of St. Joseph's, Wembley. The presentation was made at Mass in a service concelebrated by Bishop John Arnold and Frs. John Menonkari, Joseph Kaduthanam and Brito Fernandes
8 September 2012 Lorenzo De Toro From Miami, Florida, US in recognition of long service to the Church and the cause of a free Cuba. The presentation was made at Mass on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Charity in a service celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
13 October 2012 John Craig, Nicholas Dawe and Richard Munt From Christchurch Consulting Company (New Zealand) for dedicated services to the Christchurch Catholic Community following the devastating earthquakes that occurred in the city (and region) of 2011 and 2012. Medals awarded by Bishop Barry Jones at Holy Mass in St Mary's Pro Cathedral, Christchurch
25 November 2012 Elizabeth 'Lily' Farrell From Blanchardstown, Dublin, Republic of Ireland in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at Mass in St. Patrick's Church in Corduff.
13 December 2012 Christina 'Chrissie' Power From Partington, Manchester, England in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at Mass in English Martyrs Church, in Manchester.
2012 Una O'Malley From Northampton, England. Born in Carlow in the Republic of Ireland she moved to Northampton aged 18. The award was made to recognize 35 years loyal service as Housekeeper at the Bishops House and the Cathedral 1979 to 2014. The presentation was made at a full Mass in Northampton Cathedral by Bishop Peter Doyle.
13 January 2013 Teresa Aylott For services to the church, the community and charities. Pope Benedict XVI was represented by Bishop John Arnold at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint George Church in Enfield, Middlesex, England during the second Mass.
21 January 2013 Maura Cotter and Russell Luke From Immaculate Conception Parish, Oadby, Leicestershire, England in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at the blessing of the newly renovated Immaculate Conception, Oadby parish rooms by Bishop Malcolm, 9th Bishop of Nottingham.
27 January 2013 Patrick J. (Paddy) Reardon From The Most Holy Redeemer, Billericay, Essex, England in recognition of his devotion to the Church and work for the community as a Most Holy Redeemer parishioner. The presentation was made at 11:00 am mass in Billericay by Fr. John.
2 February 2013 Peter Reynolds From Blanchardstown Parish, Dublin 15, Ireland in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at a special mass in Blanchardstown by Bishop Raymond Field.
26 May 2013 Catherine (Kate) Doody For services to the church and the community. The award was presented at St Ethelbert's Church in Slough, England. Pope Benedict XVI was represented by Bishop Peter Doyle.
26 May 2013 Madge Meehan For services to the church. The award was presented at St Ethelbert's Church in Slough, England. Pope Benedict XVI was represented by Bishop Peter Doyle.

Awarded by Pope Francis

Date Name Rationale
11 August 2013 Colleen Wilby In recognition for all that she had done and brought to the community in New Alresford, England in enhancing the music over the last 25 years. Colleen's commitment has been considered to be truly extraordinary, and with the exception of two weeks holiday each year and the occasional family commitment she has played for every Sunday Mass, and at Christmas and Easter celebrations .
17 July 2014 Gerardine Babb For services to the Catholic church, community and education, in particular for her 12 years of service as Headteacher of St. William of York RC Primary School, Bolton, England.
10 January 2015 Dr. Charles Holland Wagamon, Sr. and Mrs. Marion Rose Holick Wagamon For 65 years of distinguished service and contributions to their Parish, Diocese, family, community and social justice, the Wagamons were formally presented their Benemerenti medals during Mass by the Rev. Fred Valone, Pastor, St Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Huntsville, Texas, US.
16 January 2015 Mr Patrick R. Murphy Presented in recognition of 50 years of work as a teacher, school governor, catechist and charity worker. Bishop Tom Burns of Swansea presented Mr Murphy's medal on behalf of Pope Francis during Mass at the Church of St David and St Patrick, Haverfordwest, Wales.
7 February 2015 Julina Elizabeth Fowler (Lina) Patterson For long and dedicated service to the church and the community in Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The award was presented at St Joseph's Church in Peebles at the Vigil Mass on Saturday. Father Wojciech Rybka presented the award on behalf of Pope Francis.
19 April 2014 Lily Leacy For long and dedicated service to St. Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy, Ireland. Presented by Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ferns, Denis Brennan at Saturday Vigil Mass, on behalf of Pope Francis.
23 November 2014 Mr. Manikrao K. Guldeokar from Amravati, India.
19 June 2015 Sheila Conway In recognition of her services to the Star of the Sea Parish, and to local charities, Sheila was formally presented with the medal during a special mass at The Star of the Sea church, Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The spokesman for the Diocese Father Edward Magee said: "This is recognition for the tremendous work and service that Sheila has given to both the church and the local community." [11] The service also celebrated the golden jubilee of the ordination of Bishop Anthony Farquhar.

25 August 2015 Alan Ginsburg Ginsburg was presented the medal "for his vision in creating a space where Catholic and Jewish students can fulfill their spiritual needs, side by side" at the University of Central Florida where he funded the construction of the Catholic Campus Ministry Center and the adjacent Hillel Center.[12]
20 November 2015 Margaret Keating Awarded for humble and quiet service to the parish and community of Castlemahon, Co. Limerick, Ireland.
15 November 2015 Mr Augustine Pereira Mr Pereira joined St Joseph's Church (Victoria Street, Singapore) parish's children's choir at the age of seven and continued on to the adult choir. He was also an altar server, especially during the painful Japanese Occupation, when he assisted in many funerals. He was also a long-standing Vincentian, and served as a warden and informal "car-park attendant" from the 1950s, until ill health in 2003 prevented him from doing so.
15 November 2015 Prof James Newton Boss He contributed to St Joseph's Church (Victoria Street, Singapore) local Church history when he wrote The Portuguese Mission in Singapore (1825–1999): St Joseph's Church. He also secured the grant from the Preservations of Monument Board which enabled the stained glass windows of the church to be restored to their former glory. In addition to being chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council and a long-standing member of other organisations, Prof Boss has also assisted the church in innumerable negotiations in securing its Catholic heritage status. He was conferred a knighthood by Rome in 2007 — The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.
24 December 2015 Carole Ann Crowther Awarded for services to the young people of St. Clare's Church, Fagley, West Yorkshire, England.

Leading the liturgy group on a Saturday evening and also preparing young people for their holy communion for over 20 years.

8 May 2016 Mary Sheppard Awarded for services to St George's Church, South Darenth, Kent, England.

Being sacristan, counsellor and friend for over 50 years.

28 May 2016 Keyna Godward For long and dedicated service to the parish of Great Missenden and Wendover in Buckinghamshire, England.
9 October 2016 Joan Merrigan Awarded for dedicated service to the Sallynoggin Parish in Dublin, Ireland for the 50 years of its life.
13 November 2016 Teresita Nixon Teresita Nixon, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Delta, BC, Canada is the founder of the Richmond-based Aquinas Institute, which is committed to sharing resources with the needy around the world. Among the Institute's works is offering scholarships to needy university students in Canada and the Philippines. Aquinas Institute, dedicated to the Holy Family, has organized and sponsored successful religious events for Catholics in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including Advent and Lent retreats, Holy Hours, and youth conferences. In 2004 Aquinas Institute released its first publication, the Meditations on the Holy Eucharist, sold in Canada, the US and Europe. Teresita has been responsible for the publication of devotional books, and she leads charitable events for local, national, and international charities. She was instrumental in organizing the Table of Hope banquet for more than 1,000 needy children at the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines. Source: "Papal Honours 2016", The BC Catholic, 7 November 2016, p. 9. Teresita received the Papal Honour Award - Benemerenti medal from Pope Francis through Most Rev. J. Michael Miller, CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver during the Mass at the Closing of the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy at Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver, BC.
2016 P. U. Thomas P. U. Thomas- An Ordinary Man with Extraordinary Mission

P. U. Thomas is the founder and Managing Director of Navajeevan Trust which celebrated its 23rd anniversary on the 1 May 2014.   P. U. Thomas is popularly known as Thomas Chettan (Chettan – elder brother). Actually Navajeevan Thomas Chettan has become his name in Kerala as well as among Keralites in foreign countries who are familiar with Navajeevan trust through newspapers in Malayalam. Navajeevan Thomas Chettan  has endeared himself to thousands and thousands of people belonging to various strata of society such as high officials, doctors, office bearers of Non -Governmental agencies, teachers, paramedical staff of government hospitals, officials of local self governing bodies,  and students of higher secondary schools and colleges. To much poverty ridden ailing patients in the General wards of Medical College, and District hospital at Kottayam Thomas Chettan and Navajeevan are deputed by God himself to feed the hungry. To students of schools and colleges who attended his orientation programme Thomas   Chettan is a living legend. P. U. Thomas is not a priest, not a missionary, not an academician, not a sociologist, not a psychiatrist but his unique personality integrates all these dimensions and he stands above all these professionals and wins the admiration of many by his own unique life totally committed to humanitarian values and selfless services to orphans, poor patients, destitute and mentally challenged persons. Thomas Chettan through Navajeevan offers food, shelter, security and treatment to these people. For three decades, P. U. Thomas is serving thousands of people with extraordinary vision and mission which is not confined to any particular religion or caste.

Beginnings of Mission and Vision

P. U. Thomas (Thomas Chettan) had humble beginnings in the native village of Athirampuzha in the district of Kottayam in Kerala, India. He was born in a Syrian Christian family as the son of PakkathukunnelUlahannan on 5 May 1949. As an ordinary village boy he had his primary education and upper primary education at St. Aloysius school at Athirampuzha. Hailing from a poverty ridden family, Thomas was not able to pursue his education beyond VIIth standard. He along with a friend left his village and went to Ernakulam in search of a job. For two years P. U. Thomas tried at household job. Thomas remembers that it actually strengthened his mind to face challenges. When his father brought him back he was destined by God to do extraordinary services to fellow beings. Successful accomplishment of any mission is always rooted in a strong vision. At 16, God sent him the vision through an illness which affected his health badly. He suffered from the severe pains of ulcer. The Doctor in the district hospital at Kottayam town advised him to undergo surgery. Four decades ago surgery was rare which instilled great anxiety and fear in the minds of patients to which P. U. Thomas was not an exception. He deemed that to be the end of his life. The tiny town of Kottayam which had the district hospital was 10 kilometers away from his village. In those days bus services were rare. Majority travelled on foot or by bullock carts. Thomas with his father, walked all the way to the town. By around 3 o’clock in the dawn they reached the municipal Office in the town, slept there as they had to reach the hospital at 8.30 am. The boy was admitted to the hospital but he had to spend 16 days in the hospital for his turn of surgery. The pathetic world of sufferings, poverty, and the ill-treatment of patients by the staff awakened the spring of sympathy and compassion in his sensitive heart. After the surgery too he spent nearly a fortnight in the hospital for further examinations. To his great relief and astonishment the boy found himself to be alive. The realities of patients in the general wards instilled an earnest desire in him to serve the poor patients in hospitals. He was in search of a job.

Big Mission through small job

At the age of 20, he approached the authorities of men's hostel of Medical College Kottayam for a job in the hostel. Pratapan Nair, a third year degree course student was the secretary of the hostel council. He allowed Thomas to work in the hostel as a mess boy. Later Dr. Prathapn Nair served as the Professor and head of the Dept of ENT in Medical College and at present he is practicing in the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences at Kochi. The boy was honest and hardworking. He was also assigned the job of tendering the garden in the hostel premises which he readily accepted. The desire to help the poor patients in the general wards of Medical College was still alive in the mind of this young man. With permission he took over the left over food of the hostel for the poor patients. Thomas remembers that he usually carried two buckets of food to the general wards and distributed food among the people who deserved it. This silent service touched the heart of a few sensitive students who occasionally gave little amounts of money to feed the poor patients. He earned only Rs. 151- per month as salary. But he spent Rs. 5/- out of it to buy medicines for the poor patients. He requested a few students to donate money for one lunch which can satisfy the hunger of a few in the hospital. He got a good response. Later he got a part-time employment as apprentice in the garden at Medical College. The salary was meager. Yet he was generous in mind to spend money out of his pocket to buy medicines for the poor patients. He started the mission of feeding the poor in a better way. He approached the hotels near the medical college for food that remained excess. The canteen in Medical College co-operated with him. Thomas was now able to extend help to more patients in the general wards. At first many viewed this with contempt, but gradually his selfless service gained recognition from other attendees, nurses, and even doctors. In 1970 he got an appointment in the medical college hospital as Grade IV attender on a salary of Rs.70/- per month. Now every day he brought with him tow packets of lunch from his own home, one for himself and one for any deserving patient. The newspapers recognized his services. Gradually individuals, doctors, Para-medical staff donated him money as they were quite convinced about his vision and mission. This continued for nearly two decades. He set the unique example of a how a very ordinary person, a class IV government servant can render extraordinary services to society around him.

Besides his normal official duties, he found time to communicate with poor patients, consoled them through prayers. He collected money form philanthropists, good willed people from locality to give medicine, to arrange donation of blood to the needy. He often became the by-stander of patients   who were unconscious. The doctors in almost all the departments of medical college recognized and appreciated his services. Thomas even gave money to poor patients to return to their home, gave clothing to the needy. Such selfless services were rendered by an ordinary government servant .The services had no zeal for conversion; it was not for publicity. He did not receive money from religious institutions or any foreign agencies. Thomas believes that the generosity of the people of Kottayam to feed others enabled him to carry out the mission of feeding the poor.

NavajeevanOrigin and Development

In 1980 when P. U. Thomas working in the psychiatry ward of Medical College he witnessed the most wretched form of life on earth. He also witnessed the springs of love and compassion in Dr. Kalyani who was practicing in the psychiatry ward since 1973. This doctor often spent money out of her own pocket for the rehabilitation of poor patients who were not taken back to their home by their own kith and kin.  Thomas remembers that Dr. Kalyani was a good role model. She was an angel who inspired him to think about the mentally challenged people who become destitute. He also recollects how Dr. Kumar, Department of Psychiatry rendered him great support for rendering services to these patients during treatment. In 1982 through the news in a daily he came to know about an insane person   a devotee of Lord Ayyppa who  along with his brother came all the way from Coimbatore as a pilgrim to Sabarimala. Unfortunately he lost the way and reached the town of Kottayam. He lost his money, memory and became an insane wanderer. Thomas brought him to the Department of Psychiatry, bathed him, dressed him and admitted him in the psychiatry ward for treatment. He was the guardian and bystander for the patient.   Through treatment his condition gradually improved. Meanwhile, Thomas contacted the Ayyappa SevaSangam at Kottayam. They published the photo and details of this patient in dailies in Tamil Nadu. This advertisement brought his brother to the hospital. Thomas remarks that the reunion which brought the memories of the patient to normalcy convinced him that treatment and language of love can work miracles for mentally disabled people who are normally set aside by the civilized society.

In 1988 Navajeevan Trust had its modest beginnings in a lodging room near medical college taken on lease for sheltering the mentally derailed street roamers picked from the town and the neighborhood. In this venture Thomas had the support of good hearted medical students, who vacated a room in the lodge for the service of Thomas. The first inmates were Abu, Jadayu and Aravind. Abu was a lunatic who wandered through the street of CMS college road and in the midst of the town of Kottayam. He was a funny character for the people as he always walked backwards. He was nicknamed ’reverse Abu’. When Thomas came to know about him he requested the Deputy Superintendent of police to allow him to take the patient to the psychiatry department. The police Station West Circle, Kottayam offered their services to tackle reverse Abu for admitting him to the hospital as he turned violent and resisted. Thomas and his well wishers bathed him for one hour, dressed his hair, beard, dressed him in good cloth and administered medicine. Later he was cured and he was sheltered in the room taken on lease. Jadayu and Aravind were lunatics who were rescued from the pathetic life on the streets by Thomas. They were admitted in the psychiatry ward. After proper treatment they regained the control of their minds. Jadayu and Aravind are still inmates who render valuable services as the volunteers of Navajeevan.

The fourth inmate was Manubhai a Rajstani woman. Manubhai is a special case. Nobody knows how she reached Kottayam. Thomas found her near the heap of medical college wastes. Hunger forced her to search for food amidst wastes. She could hardly recollect her own name. She was not aware that she was six months pregnant. Thomas made arrangements for food, shelter and treatment in the hospital premises. He made arrangements for her delivery. The child was entrusted with a charitable society. Once again Mnubhai escaped to the town. But Thomas, aware of the exploitation of such women, traced her with help of police and admitted her to the mental hospital at Trivandrum. After a prolonged treatment she regained her mental health and is now an inmate of Navajeevan.

Later Thomas was allowed to have all the sixteen rooms in that lodge for a rent of Rs.2000/ month for the rehabilitation of such disabled patients. This rented building was the centre of the activities of Navajeevan for many years. Forty-three inmates were offered food, shelter and treatment. A good number among them were women and old men. By this time more people were encouraging and participating in this humanitarian Endeavour.

Navajeevan was registered as a trust of seven members with Thomas as the Managing Trustee. At present the seven members including P. U. Thomas are C. Emmanuel, Biju, T. Paul, Mathew, Dr. Thomas, K. Joseph. Kerala. Advocate Emmanuel one of the lawyers at Kottayam assisted Thomas in drafting the deed. He also joined Navajeevan as a volunteer. Navajeevan was formally inaugurated on 15 August 1992 by Sri. Ommen Chandy the then Finance Minister of Kerala.

Navajeevan trust is located at Villooni a rural region in the Arpookara Panchayat. It is 4 km away from Medical College Kottayam. Five acres of land was purchased by liberal donations of different categories of people. A new three-storied building was constructed with the help of voluntary organizations. The building has 22 rooms apart from room for prayer, library, and recreation, storing medical aids and dining. Financial assistance from religious/government/foreign agencies is neither sought nor received through projects.  Thomas fears that such help would curtail the freedom of action and efficiency in the administration of the institution. Thomas is also very particular that the institution must have a secular nature. Thomas does not want to be known as a missionary as he does not have any zeal for conversion or publicity. His services are for one and all irrespective of community, caste or religion. He does not even bother about such details and no inquiries are made. To him anyone who receives his services is just fellow beings who were brought before him through Divine intervention. The motto of the trust is noted below “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are

members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

17 February 2017 James Sewell Mr James Sewell has, for almost 50 years, provided dedicated financial and accounting services to the Our Lady of Dolours Servite Church in Fulham, England. The whole church community is proud of Mr Sewell, and grateful for his long and most generous service. [13]
28 January 2018 Ewan O'Flynn Ewan O'Flynn was for many years the sacristan of St. Mary's and also a tremendous support to the many priests who have passed through Lucan.

His late wife Joan was well known through her writings and her involvement with the Lucan Newsletter, she also contributed a great deal to the liturgical life of the parish. Ewan's organising skills meant that anything he was involved in was done to a very high standard.

28 January 2018 Billy Bernie Billy Birnie is the second member of his family to receive the Benemerenti medal, his late brother Laddie was the recipient some years ago. Billy and his late wife Nancy have played a huge role in the life of St. Mary's through the years and thanks to them the new generation of the family continues that tradition.

Billy himself has been involved for very many years and his practical and inventive skills have been a Godsend through those years. He works away quietly without fuss and can solve any maintenance problem. He is the Mr. Fixit of Lucan. He brings to his work a bright and cheery disposition.

23 February 2018 Cornelius "Con" O'Dwyer Awarded "... in recognition of service to Church and Community over a long period[14]"
20 July 2018 Kathleen Smith Sacristan to The Most Holy Family Church, Llandudno Junction. Reception by Bishop Peter Brignal, Fr. Moses Amune and Fr. Augustine Franklin.
22 August 2018 Alan Edmondson For over 40 years Alan Edmondson has served at St. Vincent's Hospital, and now Nursing Home (Pinner), faithfully & steadfastly as a General Manager and Trustee with great love, energy and passion.
22 December 2018 Robert O'Leary Awarded for service to the community of Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, for playing the church organ at all occasions for 37 years. Robert is a self-taught organist and led the parish choir, along with wife Gretta, throughout his 37 years service.
24 December 2018 Trevor Cryan Awarded for long and dedicated service St Mary Magdalene Church, Maltby, Rotherham, England. Trevor and his family have provided music to the church and surrounding parish for over 40 years. With his family Ministry in Music Trevor has played for hundreds of weddings, baptisms, funerals, healing services and celebration days. Trevor also dedicates his life to supporting the church through leading Scripture studies, Journey in Faith groups, Marian days, Prayer Group, Medjugorje Prayer Meetings and more. Fr May summed him up in a few words as “a faithful servant to God’s people”.


  1. ^ "Turner, Right Rev. William", The Catholic encyclopedia and Its Makers, New York, the Encyclopedia Press, 1917, p. 173
  2. ^ The Catholic Herald 29 September 1939.
  3. ^ Curtis, G. P.; Elder, B., eds. (1977). The American Catholic Who's Who. 21-23. NC News Service. p. 535.
  4. ^ "Women Writers of Kerala". 2019-04-25. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  5. ^ "Author Details". 2019-04-25. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  6. ^ Catholic Almanac. NC News Service. 1977. p. 75.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lynch, John E. The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 92, No. 2 , April 2006
  9. ^ "Teresa "Temmy" Muchnik Rosenblum - Sabado Gigante' Host Don Francisco's Wife".
  10. ^ "Gustus: Welcome new Viewpoints columnist". Coloradoan. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  11. ^ Name of author - Unknown, "Papal honour for Portstewart woman", The Coleraine Times, 23 June 2015
  12. ^ Heritage Florida Jewish News: "Jewish philanthropist receives papal honor" by Linda Caldwell 5 September 2014
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Tipperary man awarded Benemerenti Papal Medal". Retrieved 2018-11-11.

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