In a joint celebration of the ordination of a young deacon and the 101 st anniversary of the consecration of St Patrick's Cathedral, St Michael, three faithful members of the Church in Barbados were awarded the papal award pro ecclesia et pontifice , literally translated, "for Church and Pontiff".
Harold Cole, Lawrence Pilgrim, and Ann Kelly were honoured last November before a congregation of just about 300 persons for their service as voluntary diocesan treasurer, faithful bell-ringer and general service, and long-time catechist and educator respectively.
Cole and his wife, Hermine, are perhaps best known for their service as members of the Caribbean Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Harold Cole was asked 23 years ago to help the Church organise its finances. Since then, countless evenings and weekends went into keeping the accounts for every parish in the diocese.
Chief celebrant, Bishop of Bridgetown, Malcolm Galt, paid tribute to Cole's wife and family for supporting him while he used what might have been family time in the service of the Church.
"I feel it's part of my service to the Church," Cole said, simply. "Some people give money. I give money and time."
It's a lot of work, but he is happy to continue, said 83 year-old Cole.
However, the task is not beyond the ability of younger accountants, and he would be happy to pass on the mantle when the time comes.
Lawrence Vere Pilgrim has been "part of the Cathdral landscape" for 34 years, according to Bishop Galt. Apart from ringing the bell three times daily for the Angelus, Pilgrim also looks after the collection at weekend Masses. A former Anglican, he was received into the Church on March 25, 1967 .
"I ask God to lead me to the right Church and not to be misled," he recalled.
Harold Cole, Lawrence Pilgrim, and Ann Kelly proudly wear their papal medals.
Every day, 86 year-old Pilgrim rides up on his bicycle, just about 15 minutes before the Angelus is due to be prayed, at 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m.
At one minute to the hour, he carefully unwinds the thick rope that controls the nearly century-old bell and proceeds to herald the faithful's common prayer. Three short rings nine times, he explained, then nine single chimes.
It is said that patients at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital count the hours by the bell's chimes that pierce the noise and bustle of the city, and take advantage of the call to prayer. Pilgrim knows this, and takes that responsibility seriously.
"If I don't come to church, I still come and ring the bell," he said.
The only time he missed ringing the Angelus bells was over a two-week period some years ago, when he fell and dislocated his shoulder.
Ann Kelly is a former Ursuline sister, who was sent to Barbados as a missionary in 1965. Her "mandate" from then Bishop Anthony Dickson, was to "train local leaders", and she set about training the parish catechists, and started groups for lay readers and Eucharistic ministers.
Interestingly, in her girlhood, Kelly attended an Ursuline school, and was active in a missionary society there, which collected and sent aid to, among many others, St Patrick's parish in Barbados .
"I've been helping St Patrick's since I was 11 years old!" Kelly chuckled.
Following an amicable parting from the convent, she continued to serve the parish that had always been a part of her life. Recently retired from a three-year post as principal of St Patrick's Primary School, Kelly found papal recognition at this time of her life "encouraging".
"The award is really shared with other people," she said. "Together, we were building the local Church; we're thanking God we were able to strengthen [it]. Because, no matter what part we play in building up the local Church, we're building up the universal Church that Christ came on earth to establish and spread.
"So, each one of us should continue to do our little bit, no matter how small," said Kelly, "because it is important in bringing about the kingdom of God."
Each awardee received a medal on which was struck the images of Saints Peter and Paul on either side, and fixed with yellow and white ribbon, the papal colours. They also received an accompanying scroll with text in Latin, which, in translation, read: "The Supreme Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, is pleased to award the insignia of the Holy Cross to (Name), instituted to honour those especially zealous in the service of the Church and Pontiff, with the right to display and wear the medallion of this award."