The St Joseph’s, Thurles Conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society celebrated and feted the long service of three of it’s best known members this week with medals of honour presented at Lamh Cunta, Bohernanave.
Sr Xavier, Seamus Kennedy and Peg Hanafin - with a combined service of 118 years- were fittingly recognised for the huge volume of dedicated and difficult work by members of the Vincentian family who gathered together on Friday last in Bohernanave Church where Rev Fr Tom Lanigan Ryan Celebrated Mass of Thanksgiving. The Bohernanave Choir were in splendid voice for the event to add significantly to the service with Fr Lanigan Ryan speaking of the light the three members had brought into the lives of those who exist in the darkness. “For many people you were the light in the darkness through your goodness and your willingness to help. You helped to give people hope and it is right and fitting that you are being recognised this afternoon,” Fr Lanigan Ryan said.
Sr Xavier was unable to attend on the day , but Peg Hanafin and Seamus Kennedy were present with their family and friends. And, when the celebrations continued afterweards in Lamh Cunta, Con Ryan of the Upperchurch Conference gave a rousing synopsis of the three recipients and of his friendship and admiration for them. Little did Con realise that he too was to receive a medal for long service - a gesture which caught him totally off guard and rendered him speechless - a state which, by his own admission, did not happen too often.
Sonny Felle, President of the Thurles Conference, presided over the event, and in his word of welcome to everyone he spoke of the contribution made by the three recipients to the Society in Thurles, and to the lives of the many who were fortunate enough to have had contact with them. Three very different characters in approach and demeanour, jointly and together with their fellow members, they made the Society tick and achieved their primary goal - to help the needy and anyone requiring assistance.
There was a tremendous atmosphere in Lamh Cunta with Peg Hanafin speaking on behalf of the members and thanking the conference for their beautiful jesture. However, she added that the medals received were dedicated to all the members and pointed out that the three were simply cogs in a wheel which just keeps on turning.
Then came the surprise for Con Ryan of Glown, Upperchurch when a medal was presented to him also in recognition of his outstanding service to the Society in his native parish. With Thurles members Bob Maher, Sheila Gleeson and Sonny Felle on hand to present the medals, it really was a great evening of celebration.
The St Vincent de Paul has been there for so many people throughout the ages, shining like a beacon in a sea of darkness, Much of the work is undertaken under a cloak of privacy in order to protect the dignity of recipients. But, all of it is so appreicated.
So take a bow Sr Xavier, Seamus Kennedy and Peg Hanafin from Thurles - and Con Ryan from Upperchurch - medals only come with hard work and nobody has given as much time as you have in the service of others.