Dunsany-Kilmessan parish priest, Fr Terry Toner, presented a Benemerenti Medal to Stephen Duffy, accepting on behalf of his late wife, Bridie, with their daughter, Bernie, her husband Kevin Byrne and children, Clodagh, Tara and Erin, and Bridie’s sister, Mary Bartley Meehan.

Late Dunsany sacristan is honoured with papal medal

Bridie Duffy’s four decades of loyal service

The dedication and service of the late Bridie Duffy as sacristan on the Church of the Assumption, Dunsany, was celebrated on Saturday evening when her family was presented with a papal Benemerenti Medal by the local parish priest, Fr Terry Toner.

Bridie, who died a year ago, was sacristan at her local church for almost 40 years, after she took over from her mother, Bridget McCabe of Oxpark.

The medal was presented posthumously as Bridie lost a brave battle with cancer on 10th October 2020, and her passing and Covid-19 restrictions meant that the medal could only be presented now, in a fitting way to mark her first anniversary.

Fr Toner said that as sacristan, Bridie contributed to a welcoming atmosphere in the church.

“In the case of a funeral, she offered care and sympathy to the bereaved. At weddings, she offered love and warmth to couples arriving to get married.

“Her attention in the sacristy to visiting priests and visitors was much appreciated. Over the years, Bridie opened and closed the church, washed altar linens, and saw to it that everything was in order.”

Fr Toner said these human touches done in love and service were her contribution to her native parish of Dunsany.

“Like the work of her mother before, Bridie’s service could often go unnoticed by those who passed through the building. But it is fitting that we present this papal award posthumously to those closest to her – her husband Stephen and her family, including her sister, Mary.”

Fr Toner added that it was a singular honour for the parish she served and loved, and in a way reflects on all those who have served in the role in Dunsany and Kilmessan churches in the parish, including the late Nora Carolan, the late Paddy Maguire, and Tommy Hamill.

Pope Francis' papal recognition for services to the church was a tremendous tribute to the McCabe and Duffy families who had suffered great loss over the difficult pandemic period, with the deaths of Bridie, her sister Mary’s husband and son, Ultan Meehan and Adrian Bartley, of Ardbraccan, and Stephen’s brother, Patsy, in Skryne.

Fr Toner presented the award to Stephen Duffy on behalf of the parish and Bishop Tom Deenihan.

Stephen thanked the parish and Fr Toner for the honour, and all those who had offered sympathy and support over the past year, which he said was a great comfort and consolation. He was joined by Mary Bartley Meehan, his daughter, Bernie and her husband, Kevin, and their children, Clodagh, Tara and Erin.

Members of Kilmessan Church Choir took part in the anniversary Mass for Bridie, led by Lisa Rooney Smith.