Portsmouth Diocese e-News

Gongs galore at St Joseph's Tilehurst!


27th November 2017


No fewer than four parishioners from St Joseph’s in Tilehurst have been honoured in the past year for their dedicated service to the Church.


Carmen Ibanez-Mate has been Sacristan for the past 13 years – and much more besides.  For most of that time the parish has been without a resident priest, but she became the beating heart of St Joseph’s, doing everything from taking Holy Communion to the sick in hospital, to making sure the bins got taken out.  A leading member of the lay Servite order, she was awarded the papal Benemerenti medal.




Margaret Chaplin received a Diocesan medal after 27 years as the parish CAFOD representative.  During that time she has helped raise £100,000 for a whole variety of CAFOD projects.  In 1990, she founded ‘Knitwits’ whose volunteer knitters have made some 15 thousand blankets and garments for needy people all over the world.




Also awarded a Diocesan medal was Gerry Heenan a parishioner since the establishment of the parish in 1966.  He has been a Mass reader ever since – more than 50 years – and has also sung in the choir and helped organise social events.  He is still a member of the Finance Committee.




Tom McKeown has been an unseen hero of the parish for as long as it has existed.  A bricklayer by trade he became maintenance supremo of the first church at St Joseph’s, and later carried out its conversion into what is now the parish hall.  When the new church was built in 1976, he looked after both buildings, doing much of the work himself, and negotiating tough deals when bigger projects were undertaken.  His tireless service over 58 years was recognised with the award of a Benemerenti medal.



Between them, these founding mothers and fathers have laid a solid foundation for the Parish, and are a shining example for generations to come.


Congratulations to them all!





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