Brunel University London’s Catholic Chaplain, Sister Mary Kenefick, has been named one of four UK Catholic Women of the Year for 2017.
The Catholic Women of the Year are chosen annually by secret ballot by a committee drawn from the main Catholic women's organisations in England and Wales, from nominations sent in from across the country.
The award honours "unsung heroes" who are active and vital in their community, and uphold Catholic values in education or in public or professional life.
Sister Mary, one of Brunel's Chaplains, is a Poor Servant of the Mother of God, a religious congregation founded in London in 1869, and is currently a parish sister at St Patrick's Soho Square. She is a Catholic Chaplain both here at Brunel and UCL, and has formerly worked as a headmistress and in chaplaincy for the British Army in Germany, and at Heathrow Airport. She graduated from St Mary's University, Twickenham, with an MA in Pastoral Theology in 2007.
Father Stephen Wang, senior University Chaplain for the diocese of Westminster, nominated Sister Mary for Catholic Woman of the Year, saying: "She brings warmth, joy, professionalism and a deep faith to her relationships, reaching out to those unconnected with the Church and tirelessly supporting the Catholic students so they can be a confident and loving presence among their peers."
Quoted on CatholicsAtUniversity.org this summer, Sister Mary said of her experience at Brunel: "It is a humbling experience to be part of a University Chaplaincy Team. I am always amazed by the value of 'presence' among the Brunel University London community.
"I have recently had the great joy, together with the students, of building up its Catholic Society. It has required much generosity and great courage from the Catholic students to come on board. The CathSoc meets weekly and enjoys a rich programme of prayer, sacramental life, catechesis, retreats, pilgrimages and social events; the aim being to deepen their faith and prayer life. They are offered Spiritual Direction and Discernment about both their state in life and about their career.
All of this requires training, and here is the core of the Chaplain's role of supporting, guiding, and reflecting with the students so they can become confident leaders in the Church. Such aspects of their formation can, I hope, prepare them to become active members of any parish they will live in subsequently.
"This award came as a big surprise to me. It has come at a good time, at the beginning of term, and I am looking forward to welcoming the new students at Brunel."
Sister Mary's award follows Reverend Sally Hitchiner's appointment to the Church of England's General Synod last month.
Our Chaplains are available throughout the week to offer a listening ear, personal help and advice, and spiritual support to staff and students. You will always be met with a warm welcome and a respectful attitude. You don't need to make an appointment – simply drop-by and enjoy the sanctuary offered. More information is available here.
Sarah Cox, Media Relations