A Naas man has been awarded a papal honour for his services to the local parish church.
Jim Sullivan, a retired garda chief superintendent, was presented with the Benemerenti medal - which was established in 1832 and was first awarded by Pope Pius to recognise military merit - by Naas parish priest Fr. John Brickley.
“I was honoured to hear that I would be getting the award to have it presented in my own church,” said Jim, who retired from An Garda Siochana 22 years ago. Well known Naas church singer Josie Byrne, was a previous recipient in Naas and, before that, Sr. Bernadette, who will be remembered by some as a church organist in Naas.
Jim won his award for his work in organising lay ministers working at both the parish church on Sallins Road and the Church of the Irish Martyrs, Ballycane. Lay ministers augment the work of priests performing tasks like bringing holy communion to house bound parishioners and to patients in Naas Hospital. There are about 120 lay ministers in Naas alone.
Jim was working voluntarily in lay ministry for some three years before he retired from the gardai and, now aged 82, he stood down from the lay ministry role earlier this year. He served as a chief superintendent in Naas and he was personal assistant to 3 Garda Commissioners, including Naas resident Paddy Culligan. During his career he also served at various stations in Limerick and Dublin and served as an inspector, superintendent and chief superintendent in Naas. Jim, a native of Kilanerin, co. Wexford, lives in Lakelands, Naas, with his wife Una, who hails from Ballycroy, Co. Mayo. They have a daughter and two sons - Anne Marie, a teacher at St. Mary’s College, Naas; Seamus a teacher in Huntstown, Dublin and Eamon, an IT consultant in Abu Dhabi.