BRISBANE Catholic Ora Duffley, who now works at the United Nations with the Holy See Mission, said she could not believe her eyes when she found out she was nominated for the volunteer award at The Community Leader Awards in 2017.
At the time she was teaching in a little Catholic school in Logan when she received an email from The Catholic Leader, informing her of her nomination.
“It was an incredible moment,” she said.
“I at once felt excited, surprised, and shy.
“Being nominated for this award was one of the nicest things that’s ever happened in my life, to be nominated in my own archdiocese, it was a proud moment and a humbling one too.”
It was her work with Catholic Mission SOS Chrétien’s d’Orient that saw her nominated as a finalist for The Catholic Leader’s awards.
Ms Duffley was nominated for her work helping Christian refugees in northern Iraq, people who faced danger and death every day.
She said she never dreamed of being nominated for an award for volunteer work.
“To be recognised as a volunteer is a sweet moment in life and sweeter still is the chance of encounter, of friendship, of experiencing what it is to be truly human through time serving our fellow man,” Ms Duffley said.
“Our faith calls us to see Jesus in every person we meet, in the man who begs on the street, in the migrant child who seeks a new life, in the woman who is downtrodden or suffering, in the elderly who need companionship … the opportunities to grow in love are endless.”
She said volunteering was just a way of life for her, and has always felt called to the volunteering life.
Holy See Mission
Now working in New York as an attaché to the Holy See, she said her workplace was “a hive of activity”.
“I firmly believe that it is God’s providence that I am here, and it is a beautiful thing to know that we are all in His hands,” Ms Duffley said.
“I spent the last twelve months working as a volunteer for the Church in Syria and Djibouti, East Africa,” she said.
“As my time in Africa was coming to an end, I was wondering about my next step.
“It was then that I received an email from a friend, who had received an email from a friend, advertising the position at the Holy See Mission.
“I was so inspired and impressed by the work of the Holy See at the United Nations.
“I wanted to be part of this unique mission, so I applied for the position, worked and prayed, and here I am.”
Her transition to New York was a little overwhelming but it was also an “incredible city”.
“I am gradually finding my way and making new friends,” she said.
“For sure, life is much faster and busier here than in Africa, so it has been a culture shock of sorts. There are many places to explore and sights to see.
“I never dreamed I would live in New York; it is an incredible opportunity, and I feel privileged to be here.”
Before she joined the Holy See Mission, Ms Duffley was a teacher in Dublin and then in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Volunteering a way of life
But her call to volunteering took over and she said when “you give, you receive”.
“The work of the Church in providing people with the opportunity to volunteer, to live their faith, through the many organisations is incredible, it is no surprise that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organisation in the world,” Ms Duffley said.
“I am grateful to the Catholic Church for providing this forum through which volunteers can be recognised,” she said.
“If you have never volunteered before, perhaps start today; you will be enriched beyond what you can ever imagine.”
To nominate people for the Community Leader Awards go to page 19 for an entry form or visit www.theleaders.com.au