Northern Ireland news

Irish nun to be awarded for lifetime of teaching in Pakistan

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Sr Berchmans, HE High-Commissioner Muhammad Naseem Zaharia, and Adrian O'Neill joined by two former pupils at the presentation of the Benedict Medal

AN Irish nun is to be honoured by a leading Catholic university in recognition of a lifetime of teaching.

St Mary's University in London will today award Sr Berchmans Conway the Benedict Medal in a ceremony at Westminster Cathedral.

Born in Co Clare in 1930, Sr Berchmans is being recognised for 70 years of teaching, most of which was spent in Pakistan where she taught Muslim, Christian, Parsi and Hindu children.

Among her students were Benazir Bhutto, the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, renowned MIT astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala and noted human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

The Benedict Medal is St Mary's highest honour. Previous recipients include Dr Richard Clarke, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh.

St Mary's has strong links with Ireland. Its vice chancellor is Francis Campbell from Rathfriland while its distinguished professors include former President Mary McAleese.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said Sr Berchmans' dedication and commitment to the thousands of students she taught was an inspiration.

"We are honoured that we will be able to present her with the Benedict Medal during our graduation ceremony. Her examples of inclusivity and respect will guide our graduates as they embark on their own teaching journeys and continue to inspire future generations," he said.

Irish ambassador to the UK Adrian O'Neill represented the Republic's government at the presentation.

"Sr Berchmans is an outstanding exemplar of such service; her generous, sustained and distinguished contribution to education and mutual understanding has made a lasting impact, over several generations, in Pakistan," he said.

"She is a very worthy recipient of the Benedict Medal, of whom her fellow Irish citizens are very proud."

Sr Berchmans Conway

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