Christmas morning Mass in New Quay Church 2016 and a Benemerenti Medal
By Eileen Mulkerrins
Only our parish Administrator, Fr Colm Clinton, chief celebrant at the 11.00 a.m. Mass on Christmas morning, 2016 and his Pastoral Council officially knew what was afoot that day. Sacristan, Margaret Jordan sat vigilant in her usual place behind the Servers. In the Gallery, the organist, violinist and choir were under direction to perform a piece reserved for special occasions, the moving Dona Nobis Pacem. The Conclusion of Mass was put on hold when Chairperson of the Pastoral Council, John Mulcahy made his way to the Lectern bearing as was apparent proud and pleasing News.
Unfolding a Certificate and revealing a Medal he announced to the Congregation that our Sacristan of many years, Margaret Jordan had been awarded the Benemerenti Medal by the Vatican. The text on the Certificate as read to the Congregation by Chairperson, John gave a fuller understanding of the significance of the Award:
''The Supreme Pontiff, Francis, using his power to honour by a mark of distinction, has seen fit to bestow upon:
this gold Medal. Shocked and in disbelief, Margaret stepped forward and the official presentation of the Benemerenti Medal was made by Pastoral Council members, Nicola Hynes and Mary Daly.
The excitement, jubilation and congratulations of family and parishioners which greeted Margaret, added to her consternation and confusion since she and husband, James were already actively avoiding the limelight on another front, namely her family were struggling to put in place a celebration for their 50th Wedding Anniversary which was to take place 3 days later on December 28th.
Margaret Jordan is a woman of considerable skill who smoothly manages the changes in personnel which are an inevitable feature of a parish. Key to her success is that she is a team player with a positive approach who never expects that any credit should go to her. She seems to have a keen appreciation of what her role is and never breaches boundaries. She avoids conflict. No doubt her skills were honed from the 1970s when she helped out with her Uncle in law,Tom Conroy (also a Benemerenti recipient).
What I as a parishioner find striking in Margaret is her level of commitment to New Quay Church and its parishioners, appearing to be on duty 24 hours a day. Most admirable is the respect and care with which she surrounds christenings, weddings, funerals, anniversaries and any occasions requiring sensitivity. She appears to look forward to the liturgical seasons and feast days, putting appropriate symbols in place to engage people. She is renowned for her hospitality to visiting priests and people.
Priests are people apart and Margaret possesses the refinement and sensitivity that enables her to support them while affording them the space and privacy that they need. Respect and loyalty where priests are concerned are characteristics of Margaret, resulting in her maintaining good relations with priests long after they have left the Parish. Her care for each of the priests with whom she served in their joys, sorrows, ill-health is legendary. They include Fr Colman O Halloran, Canon Bernard Mulkerrins, Fr.Joe Keogh, Fr Ray Kelly, Fr Paddy Heneghan, Fr Enda Glynn, Fr Tom Culloty. That our current priest, Fr Colm Clinton continues to give a full and generous service to our parish, despite ongoing, challenging health issues is due in great measure to the unfailing support of Margaret. Please allow me to divert briefly to say that behind every good woman is an even better man, Margaret's husband, James, has been a tower of strength for New Quay priests over the decades. St Matthew's Gospel 10:42 comes to mind '' Whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is my disciple, he shall not lose his reward ''. Benemerenti = Well merited Margaret Jordan. An honour for Margaret is an honour for the people and parish of New Quay