Papal Honour gratifies Indian community

Venkat Raman 

As reported first in our March 15, 2017 issue, Indian Newslink Community Fund Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony was chosen by Pope Francis for ‘The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’ (‘For Church and Pope’) Decoration, an award of the Roman Catholic Church.

In the absence of Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn, Monsignor Bernard Kiely presented the Gold Medal and a Citation in the name of Pope Francis, at the Thanksgiving Holy Mass held at St Mary’s in Avondale, Auckland on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

Monsignor Kiely led the Holy Mass with several other Fathers of the Church, at the Congregation which accounted for more than 700 people of varied faiths. Almost all the religions and faiths were represented at the Congregation.

Among them were Members of Parliament Phil Twyford, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar, Maungakiekie Labour candidate Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Human Rights Commission Strategic Relations Advisor, Race Relations Rakesh Naidoo.

Mr Anthony and his family were gratified that the Papal Honour was the result of the initiative taken by the Editor of this newspaper about a year ago.

Greetings and Tributes

In his message, Bishop Dunn described Mr Anthony as “a very devout Catholic and is well-known to priests and parishioners in a number of parishes in West Auckland.

“We congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition,” he said.

Prime Minister Bill English, who was on an official visit to Japan and Hong Kong, wrote to Indian Newslink conveying his good wishes and greetings.

Similar greetings came to us from Customs Minister Tim Macindoe and Pacific People’s Minister Alfred Ngaro.

Sir Anand Satyanand

In an email to Mr Anthony, former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand said, “The decoration Pro Ecclesia El Pontifice is one received in rare circumstances where an individual has rendered outstanding service for the betterment of others. Over a number of years Susan and I have come to be friends of Wenceslaus and his wife Susan and family in encounters that have involved encouragement of business, education, international relations and church attendance in New Zealand and India.  A valued friendship has resulted. The decision of Pope Francis to accept the recommendation of Bishop Pat Dunn and others for grant of this award reflects credit on Catholics in New Zealand as well as Wenceslaus personally,” he said.

Dame Susan Devoy

Race Relations Commission Susan Devoy said that Mr Anthony is a worthy recipient of the Papal Medal Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice from the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church.

“You are a worthy recipient and join a small select group of people to have received this distinguished Honour. This Honour is the highest that can be awarded to the laity by the Pope and is a recognition of your eminent service to the church and clergy,” she said.

Mayor Phil Goff

In a handwritten Greeting Card delivered to Indian Newslink, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said that he was sorry that he could not be at the Congregation at St Mary’s Church.

“Congratulations on the Award and thank you for all the good work you do for the community and the Church,” he said.

Among the speakers at the Thanksgiving Mass were the Editor of this newspaper and Kerry Coleman, who was the General Manager at the Catholic Diocese of Auckland which included the Office of the Bishop.

A Worthy Initiative

Mr Coleman was the instant supporter of this writer’s initiative in suggesting the Papal Honour to Mr Anthony.

The Editor’s letter said, “I have had the privilege of close association with him for more than 17 years in a number of professional and social welfare organisations, at each of which he has earned the respect and admiration of people with his integrity, honesty and commitment. His contributions to the business community is well documented and recognised (the foremost of which was his appointment as a ‘Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit’ by Her Majesty the Queen on her New Year’s Honours List on January 1, 2014). As a columnist in Indian Newslink, he shares his values and beliefs with more than 100,000 readers of its print and web editions every fortnight. His passion for the human cause encouraged us to establish the ‘Indian Newslink Community Fund’ with him as Chairman recently.

“The services of Mr Anthony to the Roman Catholic Church and the young Catholics have been a source of inspiration to all of us, including those of other faiths. He considers himself a ‘Servant of Servants,’ in the true Christian spirit. He is the Chairperson of the Divine Retreat Centre Movement in New Zealand and Advisor to the Vailankanni Committee to celebrate the feast of the Birthday of Mother Mary on September 8) and Director of Conquest Club, which aims to shape the character and personality of young boys in the 8- 14 age group.”

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Photo Caption:

  1. Wenceslaus Anthony receiving the ‘Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice,’ the Papal Medal from Monsignor Bernard Kiely at St Mary’s Church on May 21 (Picture by Prince Kumar)
  2. Monsignor Bernard Kiely with Susan and Wenceslaus Anthony at the Holy Mass on May 21
  3. Susan and Wenceslaus Anthony with their son Akash and daughter Sneha singing in praise of the Lord with Fathers and Sisters of the Church at the Holy Mass on May 21 (Picture by Prince Kumar) (Picture Supplied)

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