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50 Years as a Catechist in State Schools 

Congratulations to Christine Riley from St Gabriel's Parish Bexley who was honoured by Archbishop Anthony Fisher at a special Mass on Catechist Sunday, 7th February 2021. Christine has been teaching the children in our State Schools for 50 years. What a wonderful achievement and great giving of her time to the children she has taught over the years.

The pictures are of Christine receiving her certificate from Archbishop Fisher during the Mass and with another 50 year recipient, Brigitte and Archbishop Fisher.

Dempsey Medal Recipients 2020


The twinned Parishes congratulates Mr Gayus Donoghue, Mrs Rita McLaughlin & Ms Caterina Catania who were each awarded a 2020 Dempsey Medal.  Medals were presented Rita and Caterina at Masses held in the respective churches that each attend (Bexley and Rockdale) as the formal Diocesan presentation at St Mary’s Cathedral could not take place due to COVID-19.  Gayus’ medal was presented to his granddaughter Mrs Cathy Smeeton at Arncliffe church.  Gayus was unable to attend as he is in a nursing home. 


The Dempsey Medal is awarded for outstanding service or witness to the parish, diocese or community and is primarily intended to recognise people who have made an outstanding contribution to their local parish.  Gayus, Rita and Caterina have each served their parishes and churches for many years, following in the footsteps of previous volunteers who have contributed so much to St Gabriel’s Church Bexley, St Francis Xavier’s Church Arncliffe and St Joseph’s Church Rockdale.

Ms Caterina Catania - Faithful Service to the St George Italian Community

Caterina is respected by both the Parish Priest, Fr Yacub Barkat and the Italian Chaplain, Fr Adriano
Pittarello.  Fr Adriano very much values Caterina’s support as he ministers to the Italian parishioners,
saying that “if something is not working as it should or there is a question, it is Caterina who resolves
the problem”. 


Caterina prepares the altar and opens and closes St Joseph’s Church at Rockdale for the Italian Masses
and funerals.  For many years she has been a reader at the Italian Masses and has been a member of
the Italian church choir since 1980.  In her capacity as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, she
faithfully takes Communion each week to housebound sick and elderly people, carrying out this ministry with utmost devotion and diligence.  Caterina has also been a volunteer assisting the elderly residents of Scalabrini Village in Bexley since it opened in 1996.


Caterina currently leads the 30 strong Italian Social Group.  The Group, which started in 1975, runs social activities, mainly for the Italian-speaking people.  One of their aims is to raise money for charitable purposes. 


As the official liaison between the Parish and the Italian community Caterina is a key player when the parish organises and runs special events such as the 120th and 125th anniversary celebrations for the Parish, and the farewell for Fr Brendan Quirk which was attended by over 1000 people. 


Caterina personifies the type of person that the Dempsey Medal aims to celebrate and recognise., that is, someone who works quietly away at what needs to be done to support the Parish community without fuss and certainly without any expectation of reward or accolades. 


To allow both the Italian and the general parish community to attend, Caterina was first presented her Dempsey Medal at the Italian Mass on Sunday 30th August and was re-presented with her medal at the 10:30am on Sunday 6th September.

Mr Gayus Donoghue – 60+ years of service

Gayus Armstrong Donoghue, who turned 101 on 13th June this year has been a stalwart of St Francis
Xavier’s Church community at Arncliffe for decades.  He was a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society
and actively contributed to his church community for over 60 years. 


Of his early days with “Vinnies” Gayus tells of how they walked to most of their home visitations, how
they collected bottles to raise money (receiving two shillings and two pence per corn bag), and making
up and delivering Christmas hampers.  He clearly remembers the thousands of home visitations that
he undertook and says that he often thinks of the people and what has become of them. 


For many, many years Gayus was a warden at Arncliffe Church.  He warmly welcomed everyone as he
handed out the Parish Bulletin at the 5pm Vigil Mass every week.  Gayus was always enthusiastic and
happy which made the regulars and newcomers alike feel very welcome.  In addition to his service to the church and local community Gayus also served his country in the Second World War, rising to the rank of Sergeant.


Gayus was a devoted husband to his wife Billie, who he carefully and lovingly looking after as she became more and more fragile leading up to her death on 6th October, 2013.  Gayus is very proud of his family which now totals three children (two deceased), eight grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and 13 great, great grandchildren. 


Gayus came to Mass as often as possible and rarely missed Sunday Mass up until he moved into a nursing home earlier this year after ‘batching” since 2013.  A prayerful man, Gayus prays the Rosary each day and regularly attended Mass right up to his one hundred and first year. 


Due to COVID-19 Gayus’ medal was presented to his granddaughter Mrs Cathy Smeeton at the 9am Mass on Sunday 27th September at St Francis Xavier’s Church. 

Mrs Rita McLaughlin - a life of faith and work

Rita is a quiet and valued member of St Gabriel’s parish and received her medal at the 9am Mass on
Sunday 30th August. She has served St Gabriel’s Parish Bexley since moving to Bexley in 1970.  As a
Special Minister of the Eucharist she takes Holy Communion to the sick in St George Public and Private
Hospitals, parishioners at home and nursing homes. 


Rita is the current president of the St Vincent de Paul Ladies Conference of Bexley and makes home
visits on behalf of the Society.  She has contributed many hours in supporting the various works
which the Ladies Conference carries out in assisting the less fortunate people of the Bayside Council
Area of Sydney

In past years Rita counted the collection money every Monday morning at 6.45am.  Her contributions to the Parish include reading each month, making vestments, regularly laundering and ironing Altar server and Acolyte robes, and setting up for Mass and other ceremonies.  In the days when her children attended the Parish Primary School, Rita was very involved the Parents and Friends Committee assisting with activities to help support the school in a financial way as well as the Sisters of St Joseph who had the responsibility of running the school.

Rita actively seeks to engage other Parishioners in parish life, through personal invitations to attend Advent Reflection Mornings, Lenten preparation programs, leading prayers before morning Mass and parish functions. She is also a great supporter of the Parish School and any initiative offered by the Family Educator that builds Parish and School relationships.

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Dempsey Medal Recipients 2019

The Parish congratulates Mrs Mimma Savignano & Mrs Lee Kendrick who were each awarded a Dempsey Medal on 29th July, 2019 at St Mary's Cathedral. Mimma and Lee epitomise the selfless volunteer spirit that has been the hallmark of generations of Arncliffe and Rockdale parishioners.

The medal is awarded for outstanding service or witness to the parish, diocese or community and is primarily intended to recognise people who have made an outstanding contribution to their local parish.

Mrs Mimma Savignano

Mimma has been an Arncliffe Church Warden for many years. She has opened and closed the Arncliffe Church for Masses, weddings, funerals, baptisms and other special celebrations on countless occasions, over many years. This has been of immeasurable benefit to the running of the Parish.

Mimma is a stalwart of the Parish Counters, attending every four weeks for this important job. In addition, Mimma takes weekday communion services when there is no Mass and regularly takes communion to local nursing homes.

Mrs Lee Kendrick

Lee has co-ordinated the Parish-based Sacramental Programmes for First Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation, introduced in 2004. In 2017 Lee undertook the challenging task of being Catechist Co-ordinator for our Parish churches and five government schools.


Lee has been central to catechism ministry in government schools and the Legion of Mary. For her Catechist work over 20 years Lee received a Papal Blessing at the Catechist Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 24th September, 2017.

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Inaugural Dempsey Medal recipient

THE DEMPSEY MEDAL is awarded annually by the Archbishop of Sydney to members of the Catholic clergy and laity. The Medal is awarded for outstanding service or witness to the parish, diocese or community. It is primarily intended to recognise those people who have made an outstanding contribution in the context of their local parish.

The Parish congratulates Mr Bernard Pasfield who was one of the Inaugural Recipients of The Dempsey Medal on 14th July, 2017 at St Mary's Cathedral

20 Years of Scripture Teaching

Congratulations to Lee Kendrick who was presented with a Papal Blessing for her 20 years of Scripture Teaching at the Annual Catechist Mass at St Mary's Cathedral on 24th September, 2017. Lee coordinates the Catechists in our twinned-Parishes who regularly provide Scripture Teaching in the local public schools. She also volunteers to coordinate the Sacramental Programme for the children in the Rockdale area.

2017 Ron Rathbone Local History Prize

The Parish's history, The Rock of St George: Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the first St Joseph's Church-Schoolwas awarded the 2017 Ron Rathbone Local History Prize for the best piece of original research in the Bayside Council. At the ceremony held on Saturday, 7th October, 2017 at the Rockdale Library, the parish's historian, Dr Damian Gleeson was recognised for his comprehensive research of the Rockdale Catholic community from its inception in 1855 to the present day.

The book, commissioned by Fr Brendan Quirk, details the individuals, families, religious sisters and clergy of Rockdale from the late 19th century to the present day. It places Rockdale's developments in the context of the Catholic Church's growth across Southern Sydney.

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