Honour for nun Kerry Packer couldn't say no to

Sr Mary Bernice Elphick of the Sisters of Charity is prominent on the list of Catholics named in the Australia Day honours announced yesterday.

Australian Associated Press reports that she was named a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

It says that an extraordinary love of people inspired 60 years of service by Sister Bernice, a pioneer of Australian health care services. Her work at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, between 1973 and 1997 saw the establishment of research clinics and medical institutes that have proved critical in the treatment of major diseases.

"Two words that I would apply to her would be innovative, and also she is a great networker," says a former colleague of the now-retired Sr Bernice, Sr Laureen Dixon.

"Her love of people is extraordinary, so as a great networker she is able to connect the people and get them enthused and that is one thing that is obvious in the way that she has led."

When Australia's richest man Kerry Packer died last month, the media referred to Sr Bernice as "the only woman Kerry Packer can't say no to".

When Sr Bernice needed money for a new project at St Vincent's, she would often turn to Mr Packer.

Clearly and compellingly, she would outline her case and, within minutes, the media magnate would be signing a cheque.

Rome-based Jesuit theologian and author, Professor Gerald O'Collins (pictured), was honoured for his service to the Catholic Church and contribution to inter-church relations. Like Sr Bernince, he was awarded a companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

CathNews has provided a list of Catholics honoured in yesterday's awards. The list was compiled by Ramon Williams, who runs a Christian communications agency in Sydney, who warns that it may contain some omissions. We advise readers who notice omissions to let others know by visiting the CathNews Discussion Board.

Sister honoured for service to health (Australian Associated Press/ninemsn 26/1/06)
Australia Day 2006 Honours List - CATHOLIC (Ramon Williams)
Array of talent in Australia Day honours (Sydney Morning Herald 26/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
It's An Honour
The one woman in the world Kerry can't say no to (The Sun-Herald 18/4/04)

27 Jan 2006