A BRISBANE religious sister has achieved the rare distinction of receiving the Kiribati Government Award of Merit for her services to education and religious studies.
Sr Veronica Hollis, who belongs to the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart congregation at Corinda, is only the third non-islander to receive the award.
She received the award in recognition of her 43 years of service in the region formerly known as the Gilbert Islands.
Sr Hollis said she was extremely surprised to receive the award as a health condition had forced her reluctant departure from Kiribati in 2003.
“I had not expected this honour as I had left so long ago,” she said.
“I believe some of my past students may have had something to do with it.”
Consular-General of Kiribati in Australia, William Franken visited Sr Hollis at her Corinda community to present the award.
Among guests and friends present at the ceremony were Sr Hollis’ former students Professor Teweiariki Teaero and his wife Odylia, a sister-in-charge of obstetrics.
They travelled especially from Fiji where Professor Teaero is lecturer in Educational Administration and Expressive Arts at the University of the South Pacific.
The presentation of the award at her congregation’s convent had made the occasion even more special, Sr Hollis said.
Sr Hollis served in Catholic primary and secondary schools in Melbourne, Darwin, Adelaide and Brisbane before going to Kiribati.
Last week when she spoke to The Catholic Leader, Sr Hollis was looking forward to attending a special gathering of Kiribati people in Brisbane on June 21.