Judith Bower was recently presented with the Bene Merenti Medal. As part of the Service the following Commendation was read.
The Bene Merenti Medal is awarded to members of the clergy and laity for long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church. The title Bene Merenti says it all – the Medal is awarded only to a well deserving person. That well deserving person is Mrs Judith Bower and the medal is awarded to her for sixty years devoted service to her parish.
She has been a parishioner at St Catherine’s, in Pitsmoor, practically all her life. During that time she has been immersed in the life and work of the parish and in supporting its community.
Sixty years ago a newly qualified Miss Angenotti was appointed to St Catherine’s School as a primary teacher. She stayed in the school and retired as its Headteacher. She is and has always been immensely proud of the school and of the parish.
As a teacher and Headteacher she was actively involved in the preparation of children for First Holy Communion. She retained that responsibility following her retirement and still today undertakes that task. In that regard it is known that many a child and family have good reason to appreciate her personal generosity as she provided ‘communion clothes’ for them. She is Godmother to a great many children in the parish.
As Headteacher of the parish primary school Judith has overseen more than one generation’s education. She now continues to engage with the parents and grandparents of children at the school. She is able to offer help and often practical support to those who are struggling academically. Her extensive parish contacts and networks enable her to support bereaved families and it is noted that she attends nearly every parish funeral. She regularly visits sick parishioners in hospital, where she also undertakes work as a volunteer.
Over the years Judith has served the Parish on its Council, as a Eucharistic Minister and in organising pilgrimages to Walsingham. She was for some years active in the Union of Catholic Mothers.
As well as parish activities Judith co-ordinates Retired Catholic Teachers; organising their annual Mass and in between times she ensures that those who are in need of support are not forgotten. She maintains contact with her former staff and is, even today, watchful for their welfare.
Hers is the kind of generous and fulsome giving that caused a previous Parish Priest to call Judith, ‘The Mother of the Parish’. She remains steadfast in her support for the parish and for the Church.
She is a remarkable woman and she has done so much more for others than I am able to include here. It is with delight that I tell you that Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Ralph’s recommendation and awarded Judith the Bene Merenti Medal for her long and exceptional service to her parish and the wider community.