At a Mass said last week, Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong bestowed Papal honors on Kathleen McCormack for her meritorious service to CatholicCare, the diocesan welfare agency. Bishop Ingham made the announcement during the April 3 Mass said at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral to mark McCormack's retirement after 34 years of service to CatholicCare, 29 of which were as its diocesan director. “I am delighted and honored to announce that Pope Francis has declared Kathleen a Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great,” Bishop Ingham said. While conferring the honor, he said, “Kathleen is a most worthy recipient of this award and I know she will treasure it and do it honor.” “We offer her our congratulations and wish her every blessing for the future.” The citation reads: “Francis, Supreme Pontiff, is pleased to accede to the request made to him that, on account of your positive and generous work for the growth and development of CatholicCare and, as a testimony of his goodwill, designates you, Kathleen Vera McCormack, Diocese of Wollongong, to be declared a Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, granting you the right to all the privileges that accompany this dignity.” The Order of St. Gregory the Great is a special honor bestowed upon Catholic men and women in recognition to their outstanding service to the Holy See and to the Catholic Church through their extensive work, support, and setting exemplary ideals in their communities and countries. It was established in 1831 by Gregory XVI. As director of CatholicCare, McCormack was engaged in establishing many community-based organizations and committees, and worked extensively in family services, child protection, out-of-home care, and sexual abuse cases. She also worked with Ageing and Disability Services and involved in successful lobbying campaigns to the governments of Australia and New South Wales, and played an integral role in the development and ongoing work of Catholic Social Services Australia. Under her leadership, CatholicCare has grown to employ 194 persons as well as utilize more than 100 volunteers. On Australia Day 2007, Kathleen was also named the recipient of the “Member of the Order of Australia,” in recognition of her outstanding service to the community of the Illawarra region through the development and implementation of social welfare services. “Kathleen's ministry at CatholicCare will always be highly valued by the Diocese of Wollongong,” the diocese noted in a statement. “She has made a difference to the lives of countless people and has gone about her important ministry with grace and dedication, not seeking recognition or fanfare, but focused only on the dignity of the people whom she served.” “Her commitment, competence and contribution will be sorely missed.” McCormack will be succeeded as director of Wollongong's CatholicCare by Michael Austin, who previously worked with CatholicCare Sydney. The Diocese of Wollongong is located in the Australian state of New South Wales, where it covers more than 2,300 square miles. It serves 185,000 Catholics among a total population of 646,000.