Good Samaritan Sister Monica Armstrong has been honoured by the Diocese of Parramatta for her “outstanding contribution and service” to the community of St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Springwood, NSW.
Monica is one of this year’s 50 recipients of the Diocese’s Medal of Honour, presented earlier this month during a ceremony following vespers at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta.
Monica said she was both surprised and proud to receive the award.
“I was proud that people wrote the things they did… What they wrote was what I was hoping I was doing,” she said.
“They say I’ve done a lot for them, but I’ve received a lot back, too, from working with the school and the parents here.”
Monica first began her ministry in home-school liaison at St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, Springwood in 1996, having spent more than 30 years as a teacher in various Catholic schools throughout Australia. Now in her nineteenth year at the school, she continues to love the role and the people with whom she engages.
For Monica, her award is also “an honour” for the Sisters of the Good Samaritan and the St Thomas Aquinas school community. As such, she was pleased that a number of her sisters and school colleagues could be with her at the awards ceremony on August 7.
“I was proud to show off my congregation – my sisters – to the staff, and the staff to them,” she said. “It was a special time.”
Sergio Rosato, Principal of St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, who was responsible for instigating Monica’s award nomination, said her award is “thoroughly deserved”.
“I know the community as a whole is joyful as well that she’s been recognised because she’s a very modest and very humble person and that’s what makes her so beautiful.”
In his written nomination, Sergio outlined how “vital” Monica is to the Springwood school and parish communities, referring particularly to her pastoral care role with students, parents and teachers, her facilitation of the Seasons for Growth Program, and her continued involvement in the recovery effort following the October 2013 bushfires in the Blue Mountains.
To support his nomination, Sergio included the reflections of one community member who said:
“Just like the Good Samaritan after whom the religious order is inspired, Sister Monica selflessly exemplifies the true essence of love, and indeed our school motto: ‘Love one another’.
“We find ourselves and our children motivated to follow her example of inclusive care and concern for each individual, in all the wider communities in which we live.
“It is through Sister Monica’s living example of empathy, sharing and valuing the feelings and experiences of all in our St Thomas Aquinas School community, that we are poignantly reminded of the presence of God in our daily lives and we are forever grateful for his blessing”.
Sergio concluded his application by saying: “We are immensely grateful for Monica’s loving vocational dedication to all those in our school community – we give thanks to God for this gift. She is indeed a Sister of the Good Samaritan in name and action.”