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Bishop presents posthumous papal honour
Bishop Michael McKenna presented a papal honour, posthumously, to Mr Neville Dawson’s family at the 10am Mass in the Cathedral of St Michael and St John on 26 March 2023. The Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for Church and Pope) is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for outstanding service to the Catholic Church and the Pope.

Mr Dawson died on 9  November 2022. He and his wife Johanna, who only predeceased him on 27 July 2022, had four children (Peter, Debbie, Judy and Bernadette), nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. They founded and ran Dawson’s Removals in Bathurst for over 40 years, retiring in 2001, with his son Peter and daughter-in-law Bernadette carrying on the family business. The Dawson family were all gathered in Bathurst on the last weekend in March, to celebrate what would have been Mr Dawson’s 90th birthday, and Bishop Michael thought the 10am Mass, which Mr and Mrs Dawson usually attended, was the perfect opportunity to present the papal award.

A well-known Cathedral Parish parishioner, Mr Dawson was a member of the Parish Finance Team and Council for around 30 years, assisting the Dean of the Cathedral. He was also a member of the Cathedral Restoration Committee for 10 years, providing support for the Bishop in restoring the Cathedral of St Michael and St John, Bathurst; and a member of the St Vincent’s Private Hospital Board. In earlier days, he was the co-founder of the St Patrick’s Young Men’s Society Club (CYMS), providing pastoral care and development for young people; and a founding member of the Majellan Catholic Club, fostering good relationships and support between Catholic families in the community.

His good works also extended to the wider community and in 2014 he was named ‘Bathurst Citizen of the Year’, for 50 years’ service to the humanitarian services association, Rotary. In 2015, his contribution to the life of the local community was recognised when he was named as a ‘Bathurst Living Legend’.

The medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice was instituted by Pope Leo XIII on 17 July 1888 to commemorate his golden sacerdotal jubilee. It was bestowed on those who had merited well by assisting in making the jubilee and the Vatican Exposition successful. This decoration was made a permanent distinction in October 1898. It is usually awarded to reward those who in a general way deserve recognition from the Pope on account of services done for the Church and its head.