On Saturday February 5 two parishioners of the Holy Redeemer church in East Sussex, Barbara High and Patrick Lee, were presented with the Benemerenti medal and certificate from Pope Benedict XVI.
The medal is one of the highest honours which can be bestowed on a lay person in the Catholic Church. Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton came to Holy Redeemer especially to present this award to Miss High and Mr Lee.
The Mass was concelebrated by the bishop, Fr Ian Byrnes, parish priest, and Fr Desmond Baker. After Mass there was a celebration in the parish hall.
Miss High has worked tirelessly for the parish since she was received into the Church as a young woman.
For over 55 years she has taught the children of the parish, both as head of Infants at St Mary, Star of the Sea School, and in the parish itself, taking the First Holy Communion instruction for children for over 40 years and leading the team taking the children’s liturgy on Sunday. She ran the parish Guides for many years and is a member of the Trefoil guild of scouting and guiding.
Miss High has raised thousands of pounds for the parish, has made vestments, altar cloths and has made and painted the Christmas crib and the Easter garden, Stations of the Cross in the grounds and set up the Garden of Remembrance for deceased parishioners. She is currently in charge of liturgy on the parish pastoral team, sacristan and leader of the choir. Meanwhile, Patrick Lee has served the Church at Holy Redeemer since he was a boy.
After he made his First Holy Communion he became an altar boy and 65 years later he still regularly serves at Holy Mass.
As a young man Mr Lee helped the parish priests to set up a youth club, ran a successful football team and took part in parish pantomimes, Passion plays and other events. He joined the SVP when it started in the parish and is the conference president. He is the mission rep on the parish pastoral team. Mr Lee also has creative talents and every parish celebration for the last 40 years has had a cake decorated by him.
He is also a member of the Secular Franciscan Order.