Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Papal Award for Mrs Mary Reynolds - Former A&B Director of Education

Cardinal Cormac presenting the Certificate of her appointment to Mrs Mary Reynold
Last year, Bishop Richard recommended Mrs Mary Reynolds, former Director of the Catholic Schools Service, to the Vatican for a papal award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Catholic education, both in the diocese and nationally, for over 40 years. At the request of the Bishop, the news that Pope Francis had appointed her a Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great was shared with Mary and her husband, Philip, by Monsignor John Hull at a private luncheon he hosted for them during the summer.

Cardinal Cormac, who appointed Mary as Director in 2000, made the formal presentation of the award during Mass on Sunday, 9 October, at St Edward’s, her parish church in Windsor. The parish priest, Canon David Hopgood, organised the Mass very much as a parish celebration of the Pope’s recognition of Mary’s work in Catholic education. Appropriately, there were many young families among the packed congregation. With them were Mary’s father, husband, members of their families, friends and representatives of her former colleagues, both diocesan and national. Concelebrating Mass with the Cardinal were Canon David Hopgood, Dom Stephen Ortiger, OSB, Fr James Hanvey, SJ, and Fr Alan Neville, MSC, a family friend who is based in Cork. Canon Bill Davern joined the celebrations later.

In making the presentation, Cardinal Cormac reminded everyone that, following her work as a head teacher in three Catholic primary schools and as the primary religious education adviser in the diocese, Mary’s initial task as Director was to bring together the two branches of the Schools Service (legal and religious education) with one base at the Christian Education Centre in Crawley. This was done so successfully that most have now forgotten there was once an education office at Bishop’s House in Hove.

The Cardinal paid tribute in particular to how Mary, in responding to the many changes in education, had always looked for the most effective way of preserving the Catholic character of the schools in the diocese. As the then Bishop, he had very much relied on her support in this, as had the priests in the diocese who welcomed her work to strengthen the links between schools and parishes. Cardinal Cormac noted, too, that many teachers and head teachers had valued Mary’s pastoral leadership, her real care and concern for them if they had personal problems, her readiness to go the extra mile, literally, to support them. He thanked Philip Reynolds for his generous support of Mary’s work, especially in helping to organise and run the pilgrimages to Rome which were so much appreciated by the head teachers who participated.


Following Mass, the parish gave a reception for everyone in the church hall. Mary and Philip’s personal guests then went on to enjoy a celebratory lunch, meet up with friends and colleagues, and share their reminiscences of Dame Mary’s remarkable contribution to Catholic education.

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