‘Just a man who had a job’ receives papal honour
The first lay head of CatholicCare Canberra Goulburn, Dr Neil Harrigan, has been bestowed with a papal knighthood by Pope Francis.
Dr Harrigan was made a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great for meritorious service to the church and to society.
He was presented with the honour by Archbishop Prowse during mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral on 23 May.
The Archbishop said Dr Harrigan had received the award not only for his work with CatholicCare but also for his “great love of the archdiocese and the church in general, and his great service to its people”.
Dr Harrigan felt privileged to receive the award.
“For me, it’s an affirmation of what I believe in and it’s a rare honour for this to happen,” he said.
The papal knighthood came as a surprise for him and he was reluctant at first to accept it. But he said he decided to do so for the sake of his family, especially his children.
Dr Harrigan’s wife, Mary, died a few years ago.
He was director of CatholicCare from 1994 to 2014 before handing over to current CatholicCare CEO Anne Kirwan.
Anne paid tribute to Dr Harrigan’s stewardship of CatholicCare and for his service and achievements in leading it through the “fantastic and challenging times”.
She said the former director never wanted any attention drawn to himself.
When he stood down as director she quoted him as saying “I am just a man who had a job”.