QUEENSLANDERS Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, former Young Australians of the Year who were behind mobile homeless hygiene service Orange Sky Laundry, were among the many Catholics announced in the Australia Day honours list this year.
Both Mr Marchesi and Mr Patchett, who first featured in The Catholic Leader in 2014, were named as recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
The best friends met in high school at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, before launching their first mobile laundry van in 2014.
In a statement on Facebook, the pair said they felt “incredibly proud” of the award, but “we feel that it is a reflection of you, our amazing community”.
“Orange Sky would not be what is it is today without the infectious passion and talent of our team at HQ, the volunteers who donate their time every week, the generosity of our supporters, and the trust of our friends who allow us to be part of their lives when they sit down on an orange chair,” the pair said.
“This award belongs to every one of you who believe in our mission to positively connect communities.”
Australian Local Hero of the Year and Catholic Bernie Shakeshaft won for his work with at-risk teenagers in Armidale through his organisation BackTrack.
“I started BackTrack, seriously as simple as this – to keep kids alive, to keep them out of jail, and to chase their dreams,” Mr Shakeshaft said in a speech accepting the award.
“To be recognised and stand beside so many cracking Aussies is touching, and it’s humbling.
“To be here because some kids who were locked up in a juvenile detention centre that I have never met who saw our documentary and made the nomination, makes it even more special.”
Eric Scott, a former long-time employee at The Catholic Leader, who had written books, plays and worked as a journalist, also received an OAM for service to the arts.
In a statement on Facebook, Mr Scott said he was “completely overwhelmed” when he got the news.
“It came as such a surprise,” he said.
“For me it’s all been fun; I love being involved with showbiz, always have, so I count the award as an added bonus and I sincerely hope that all the other award recipients have had as much enjoyment out of earning the honour as I have.”
Mr Scott said he would add OAM after his name with pride.
Other Queensland Catholics like former Member of Parliament Vaughan Johnson were also named as OAM recipients.
Mr Johnson received the honour for his service to the people and Parliament of Queensland after spending 26 years as Member for Gregory from 1989 to 2015.
Other prominent Catholics like musician Paul Field, manager of The Wiggles and former lead singer of Australian band The Cockroaches featured on the honours list too.
Other Catholic recipients included the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph Sr Monica Cavanagh, who hails from Allora in Queednsland.
Sr Cavanagh has been part of the congregation for nearly 50 years, having joined in 1970.
She said she was “humbled and honoured” to receive the award.
“I look to the many women who have shown leadership in the Church and in our congregation over the years, and in receiving this award I want to acknowledge them and the Sisters of Saint Joseph,” she said.
“The people I have worked with – those who have ministered to me and those I have ministered with – and others like the brave RFS volunteers deserve this award more than me.”
Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president and Catholic Rosanna Baini was named for her service to the Lebanese community of Victoria.
“I reflect on the greatness of Australia, and how we survived two world wars, a Great Depression and a myriad of natural disasters, only to emerge on the other side as the best country in the world,” Mrs Baini said in a statement on Facebook.
“I feel enriched through the ability to empower others to excel and believe in a greater good.”