Sister Mary Shanahan RSCJ OAM (ANZ) has been awarded the Papal Honour of Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pro Pontifice for her service lasting over seventy years in the areas of education and social outreach.
She was presented with this award by the Archdiocese of Sydney at Sancta Sophia College, a Catholic residential college for women at the University of Sydney. Many people were invited to celebrate this great honour with her, including members of reflection groups that she was involved with; several members of the leadership team at Kincoppal-Rose Bay School, where she is responsible for the spiritual formation of staff and parents; a few members of the Sancta Sophia staff; and Sisters Min Young Mi, Deasy Hartanto and Esmey Herscovitch, who are members of Mary’s community.
In Mary’s acceptance speech, she pointed out that the award was a shared one, given that so many of the people present were the reason for the award. She sees the award for service to the Church in Sydney and Australia as being part of her vocation as a Religious of the Sacred Heart and a way of living its charism of discovering and revealing the love of the Heart of Jesus. “This is the foundation of my service, which I hope will continue to the day I die,” she declared.
Mary has been associated with Sancta Sophia for over sixty years, and her citation states that, throughout that time, “she has continued to bring Christ into the secular context in a way that has inspired generations of young people.” For these efforts, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2019, whose inscription read, “For service to tertiary education, and as a mentor of young students.”
The Society is very proud of Mary’s lifetime of service and hard work, and warmly congratulates her for having received this prestigious honour.