Mr Bob Lavery, from the Diocese of Leeds, who was co-driver of the vehicle which transported the relics of St Bernadette during their visit to the UK last year, was awarded a papal medal last month in recognition of his service to the Church at a Mass in Lourdes.
Fr Dennis Touw, the Director of the Westminster diocesan pilgrimage, announced the award at the end of a Mass in the Grotto, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, presented Bob with the Bene Merenti medal.
Bob has a long-standing association with, and devotion to the Shrine of Our Lady in Lourdes and travels there several times each year. At the beginning of July, he was in Lourdes to take part in the Leeds Diocesan Pilgrimage. On that occasion Bishop Marcus presented him with the Diocesan Silver Medal. This was in recognition of the key role that Bob plays in the organisational aspects of Pilgrimage, and the week’s various liturgical celebrations, not least in co-ordinating the procession of banners which begins and ends each of the diocesan Masses and forms part of the Torchlight Procession when led by the Leeds diocese.
The relics of St Bernadette covered 11,500 miles during the tour of the UK in September and October 2022, when an estimated quarter-of-a-million people visited them at various venues across the country, including the Cathedral Church of St Anne in Leeds. It was appropriate that Bob received his Bene Merenti award on the Feast of St Joachim & St Anne, Wednesday 26 July.
Within the Diocese of Leeds, Bob is also well-known for his association with St Mary’s High School, Menston dating back twenty-five years to when he first became a governor in 1998. He later served as chair of the Governing Body for several years and is now a director of the Bishop Wheeler Catholic Multi Academy Trust.
Many congratulations to Bob on these awards and all good wishes for many more visits to Lourdes. Ad multos annos!