NAAS woman and a stalwart of the church Josephine Byrne was awarded the Benemerenti medal at a special ceremony in the Church of our Lady and St. David on Saturday evening.
The church ceremony was followed by a social gathering hosted at the adjacent community centre.
Josie is known to generations of local people as a singer who performs at a multiplicity of church functions.
A native of the town, she also went to school in Naas. Josie is a cantor (church choir lead singer) who also sings with the church choir and as a Minister of the Word, she is also a mass reader.
These are just some of the roles she has performed within the Naas parish for more than four decades. She sings at both weddings and funerals and is a very well known member of the parish.
“Josie never misses church events of any importance and originally started singing with Fr. Doyle, who served as parish priest many years ago. She has done so much work for everybody as well as local groups such as the Moat Club,” parish pastoral worker Mairead Darcy told the Leader.
The last Naas recipient of the Benemerenti medal – which is awarded for service of at least 40 years - was Mother Bernadette.
The Benemerenti medal was first awarded by Pope Pius VI (1775-1799) to recognise military merit. In 1831 under Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846)a special Benemerenti medal was struck to reward those who fought courageously in the papal army at Ferrara, Bologna, and Vienna.
In 1925, the concept of awarding this medal as a mark of recognition to persons in service of the Church, both civil and military, lay and clergy alike, became acceptable.