Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 2004
Roche humbled by CSS honour
Founding WCR editor lauds Msgr. Irwin's diligence
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
During his distinguished political career, retired Senator Douglas Roche was presented with many prominent national and international awards.
From the United Nations, Roche is twice the recipient of its Medal of Honour. He was granted the Mahatma Ghandi Foundation Award for his work towards world disarmament and world peace.
And like his friend Msgr. Bill Irwin, Roche was granted the prestigious rank of officer of the Order of Canada.
But on June 11 during Catholic Social Services' 42nd annual meeting, Roche was visibly moved to receive the Msgr. Bill Irwin Award of Excellence from CSS, for his exceptional service to the community, the province of Alberta and to Canada.
"In the name of Bill Irwin, I accept this award." Roche said.
Forty years ago, Archbishop Anthony Jordan invited Roche to come to Edmonton and spend some time discerning whether a new Catholic newspaper could be started in light of Vatican II coming to its conclusion.
Before he arrived, a "younger" Father Bill called him at his home in New Jersey and invited Roche to stay with him.
Roche said their friendship was cemented immediately.
"When I was editor of the WCR, I followed CSS very closely in its young days. It is an organization that has justly deserved the esteem in which it has been held throughout North America, and I dare say in many parts of the world. It is due to the relentless spiritual and practical guidance that Bill Irwin did in developing the organization," Roche said.
More than 300 people attended the CSS meeting, during which three individuals received outstanding volunteer service awards.
Newspaper columnist Graham Hicks was recognized for his dedication to the Sign of Hope campaign which raised more than $1.8 million in 2003. Loretta Friesen was honoured for her work as an English as a second language tutor. Tony Cividino is a hero to the children at CSS' 83rd Street treatment home and was thus recognized.
"I appreciate the kind words that have been said about me (today)," Roche said, "but it is more of a thrill for me to receive an award that has the name Bill Irwin on it.
"I will cherish this as long as I live."