Indian Catholic News

Irish nun's medal for service to Pakistan

The 90-year-old has devoted her life to teaching and fostering interfaith harmony.

 
Sister Berchmans Conway (center) worked tirelessly for education in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of St. Columbans Mission Society)
Lahore: 

Britain's St. Mary’s University has announced that it will honor Sister Berchmans Conway with the Benedict Medal.

The award ceremony has been set for July 17 at London’s Westminster Cathedral.

The prestigious medal will be presented to her by the archbishop of Westminster and chancellor of St. Mary's, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, during a summer graduation ceremony.

Born in Ireland in 1930, Sister Conway joined the Convent of Jesus and Mary in 1951 in Willesden, London, before moving to Pakistan in 1953 at the age of 24.

She taught at Convents of Jesus and Mary schools in the cities of Lahore, Murree and Karachi.

In 2012, Sister Berchmans was awarded the Sitara-e-Quaid-i-Azam, one of Pakistan’s highest civil awards, for her contributions to the nation.

The award citation stated that her constant adherence to the call of duty made Sister Berchmans a "living example to emulate."

During her teaching career, Sister Berchmans taught and inspired thousands of students, among whom were the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Sayeeda Warsi, a former senior British government minister and a visiting professor at St. Mary's University, called on the Pakistani government to award honorary citizenship to Sister Berchmans.

"Sister Berchmans dedicated 70 years of her life to teaching and spent most of her time in the service of Pakistan," Warsi told Pakistani news channel Geo TV.

She taught Muslim, Christian, Parsi and Hindu children while promoting education and empowerment, so she deserved recognition at all levels, she added.

Warsi said she had the privilege of visiting Sister Berchmans in Karachi and saw at first hand how her work and presence created interfaith understanding.

"Like her students, colleagues and peers, I am delighted that Sister Berchmans is receiving the Benedict Medal from St. Mary's University as part of their summer graduation ceremony at Westminster Cathedral," Warsi said.

"It will be a fitting occasion for someone who has given their life to education and to helping young people achieve their dreams."

Father Saleh Diego, vicar general of Karachi Archdiocese and national director of the Justice and Peace Commission, expressed joy at the announcement.

"It's an honor not only for Pakistan's minority Christian community but also for the Muslim majority that Sister Berchmans Conway has been named for the Benedict Medal," Father Diego said. "She worked tirelessly and selflessly for the cause of education in Pakistan."

Source: UCAN

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