A TULLAROAN man has been presented with a prestigious medal from the Vatican in recognition of his 40 years of service to the Catholic Church.
Joseph Fitzpatrick, who has lived in Manchester for the past fifty years, was presented with the Benemerenti Medal last month at St Patrick’s Church, Collyhurst, Manchester, in recognition of his service to the Diocese of Salford, which encompasses the Greater Manchester area.
A builder by trade, Joseph ran a successful construction company and carried out a substantial amount of work for the Salford Diocese, such as restoration work on church bulidings and schools. He has also organised regular retreat weekends for local children and has helped to organise the Diocese’s annual trip to Lourdes for each of the past 27 years. Joseph recently built a grotto at his parish church of St Patrick’s in Collyhurst, having personally brought home the statues of Our Lady and St Bernadette from one of his many trips to Lourdes.
Joseph was presented with the medal by Fr Michael Buckley, Parish Priest at St Patrick’s, who spoke at length of Joseph’s invaluable contribution to the parish and the wider diocese.
Born in Tullaroan in 1941, one of the eleven children of Patrick and Anastasia Fitzpatrick, Joseph moved to Manchester in 1959 where he married Cecilia O’Dowd, whose family originated in Claremorris in County Mayo, and had five children.
The Benemerenti Medal is an extremely prestigious award and is one of the highest honours awarded by the Vatican to the lay community. Instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832, the medal is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, their families and community.
The medal itself features the word ‘benemerenti’ (meaning ‘to a well deserving person’) inscribed on its face, surrounded by a crown of oak leaves, and its ribbon displays the Papal colours of gold and white. Previous recipients of the medal include Maria Augusta von Trapp of the famed Von Trapp Family Singers.