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Bishop Michael presenting the award to Bill Kelly with Fr Greg Bellamy

Fr Owen presenting the award to Anne McLean

Pope Francis has awarded the Cross pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, a decoration of the Holy See, to Mr Bill Kelly of Orange and Mrs Anne McLean of Mudgee for their distinguished service to the Catholic Church.

Mr Kelly has a long history of service and community in his local parish and has been well-known to parish priests there for over 50 years. He is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and is regularly involved in the liturgy in his local parish. His genuine concern for the poor and their disadvantages has been demonstrated over many years in his hands-on work with the St Vincent de Paul Society. He also played a vital role in the Catholic Young Men’s Society for decades, as a sponsor, player, committeeman, mentor and confidante. Through this contribution, he has supported many young men and women playing sports for the club, helping develop their confidence and leadership potential.

A well-respected businessman for many years, he has also served in local government roles, always bringing his commitment of faith to these positions of service in the wider community. He has also been a member of the Parish Finance Committee for three decades, including terms as Chair, offering practical wisdom and business acumen to ensure the long-term sustainability of his local community. In recent years, he has assisted Bishop Michael as a member of the Bishop’s Ordination Advisory Committee, a role he was appointed to for his sound judgement of character and his ability to give honest, and trustworthy advice on the suitability of seminarians for ordination.

The mother of ten children, Anne McLean has been actively involved in matters related to Catholic education in the Diocese of Bathurst for many years, beginning with the Parents and Friends Association of her local Catholic Primary School in 1986. She served on the Diocesan Parents Organisation and from 1989-2009, the Catholic Schools Parents Association of Bathurst. Elected to represent the parents of the Diocese at a State level on the Council of Catholic School Parents, she was selected as Chair of that organisation.

Anne was also a member of the National Catholic Education Commission’s Religious Committee and from 2009-2013 represented Catholic school parents on the Catholic Education Commission NSW. In 2010, Bishop Michael appointed her to the Diocese of Bathurst’s Catholic Education Council, where she has been a valuable contributor to the progress and development of Catholic education in the Diocese, only resigning recently due to ill health.

She has also been a dedicated parishioner of St Mary of the Presentation Parish in Mudgee and involved in various ministries there for 42 years. These include facilitating sacramental preparation programs for families for 24 years and being a member of the Liturgy Group for 23 years. She co-authored and facilitated a program, ‘Conversations about Catholics’, to connect people with the Catholic faith. She also facilitated the ‘Harnessing Wisdom’ program for women, encouraging their personal growth, enhancing self-esteem and tapping into their collective wisdom. She served on the Diocesan Pastoral Council of the Diocese from 2000-2010 and, from 2016-2021, served as the Convenor of one of the Council’s working groups. Mrs McLean is a quiet worker and a humble woman of great faith.

Bishop Michael McKenna presented Mr Kelly with his award on 14 September in Orange and Fr Owen, on behalf of Bishop Michael, presented Mrs McLean with her award 13 November in Mudgee. This award is conferred for distinguished service to the Catholic Church by lay people. Congratulations to Bill and Anne.