Sr Elizabeth O’Keeffe rsm nominated for Spirit of Catholic Education Award
The Spirit of Catholic Education Awards are presented annually as part of Catholic Education Week celebrations. The awards aim to recognise individuals who are making an outstanding contribution within the Catholic education community. Catholic school communities and other Catholic education agencies in Queensland are invited to nominate individuals in the community who are making an outstanding contribution to the life of the community.
On behalf of the Charleville community, Dominique Gardiner, Acting APRE St Mary’s Charleville, nominated Sr Elizabeth O’Keeffe for a 2014 Spirit of Catholic Education Award.
Elizabeth is pictured receiving recognition of the nomination from the Director of Toowoomba Catholic Education Office, John Boseria. Others pictured are representatives of the award sponsors.
The nomination for Elizabeth reads:
Sr. Elizabeth O'Keeffe engages in exceptionally life-giving relationships with students, colleagues and other members of the school community. She is highly deserving of a Spirit of Catholic Education Award.
Sr. Elizabeth is a Sister of Mercy who was asked to come out to minister to the people of Charleville. At a time in her life when she could have thought about slowing down, she selflessly took up the challenge to come west.
Sr. Elizabeth has embraced her role as Parish assistant. She involves herself in all aspects of Parish life from performing as the Parish Sacrosanct to church cleaning, to visiting the housebound, the nursing home, ministering to the sick, printing weekly bulletins, music ministry,assisting the APRE with school liturgies, conducting the lay led liturgies when our Parish Priest is away on his western duties, compiling rosters and promotion of our Parish in various publications through our Diocese and in national and international publications.
She is a point of contact for our many Vietnamese families who make up our Parish. She has made herself available to them and encourages them to be a part of the Parish. She has been instrumental in organizing regular Vietnamese masses and after-mass Vietnamese suppers. She has volunteered to help the children prepare for their sacramental programs and has ensured the material they are using is translated into Vietnamese.
In her role at St. Mary’s, Sr. Elizabeth ministers to staff and students alike. She is employed as a school officer and goes above and beyond her role description. She takes on the ESL students, performs as the Workplace Health and Safety Officer, and takes on one on one tutoring before school to needy students and this year also volunteers weekly in the Prep classroom. For the past two years she has been the Chair of the School Board and in 2014 has taken on the role of Secretary.
Sr. Elizabeth cares for the parishioners of St. Mary’s and the staff members alike. Her manner is non-judgmental and her counsel is sort from the Principal, staff, students and Parish Priest on a range of issues. She has been asked many times to be on interviewing panels to appoint new staff, been a Fashions on the Field judge at the local race event, convener of the Parish stall at the school fete and is a regular attendee at the senior citizen events in Charleville.
Sr. Elizabeth is the face of St. Mary’s to the wider community here in Charleville and she is an exceptional role model. She is discreet and confidential. Being born and bred in the country, she understands rural life and appreciates the hardships of living in a remote country town. She is a sympathetic and integral part of the students’ life here at St. Mary’s and in the true Mercy tradition she has committed to a life long journey of discovery of the Mercy of God, which is so often found in the lives and struggles of the suffering.
Congratulations, Sr Elizabeth.