Papal Medals for Rye Parishioners

By Royston Godwin

Two parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua’s Church in Rye were awarded “Bene Merenti” medals on behalf of the Pope at a special Moss on Monday 4 October, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The investiture was carried out by the Right Rev. Kieran Conry, Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

For Ron Peters, it was the second celebration within 24 hours. The previous day, he and his wife Pamela celebrated their Golden Wedding. They were married on Sunday 4 October at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Hastings. Fifty years to the day later they renewed their commitment at Mass in St. Anthony’s in the presence of the regular Sunday congregation; Pamela was escorted to the altar by their son Graeme, where Ronald was waiting with daughter Teresa and son-in-law Ian. Their renewal of vows was followed by a “wedding reception” in the Hope Anchor Hotel, attended by friends and family, complete with fifty-year old photographs of the original event specially restored by Landgate Photographic.

After retiring from the police, Ron became wellknown locally as a sign-writer; he was also active in a specialist stamp club and actively promoted road safety. However, it was as a server on the altar of St. Anthony’s, sacristan, Master of Ceremonies on important occasions and special minister of the Sacrament that brought Ron’s work over a life-time to the attention of the Bishop. Pamela Peters, is one of Rye’s best known sopranos, singing with both St. Anthony’s choir and the Rye Singers. Their Son, Graeme, stood as a candidate for a Parliamentary election for Rye.

At the same investiture, Ita Bligh also received the “Bene Merenti” medal, the words mean “well deserving”. Ita has been housekeeper for the Franciscan friars who ran St. Anthony’s church for many years, and is also special minister of the Sacrament.

The Mass was concelebrated by the Bishop, Franciscans Fr. Aidan (parish priest), Fr Andrew (also Rye), Fr, Philip (Canterbury), Fr, David (a former parish priest), and Canon Charles Walker of Northiam Catholic Church. Representatives of other Christian denominations were present including The Rev. Derek Brice (Methodist Minister), the Rev. Dick Dengate (Churches Together) and Aliever Bylake (Quaker); the Rev. Hugh Moseley sent his apology for absence.

After the church service the parish held a reception in the Town Hall, attended by the clergy and parishioners.

“Rye’s Own” November 2004

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