Papal knighthood for loyal servant

By Matthew Biddle

FORMER Archdiocesan financial administrator Herbie O’Flynn says he’s both honoured and humbled to be made a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse announced the news on February 2, and will officially confer the knighthood on Mr O’Flynn during the 11am Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral on March 6.

Mr O’Flynn served in a variety of roles in the Archdiocese for almost 30 years. His first appointment was as executive director of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Canberra in 1986, before becoming the first general manager of the Archdiocesan Catholic Development Fund, a role he held for 19 years.

He served as the Archdiocesan financial administrator from 2004 to 2011, and played key roles in several pastoral initiatives such as the 1989 and 2004 Archdiocesan Synods.

Mr O’Flynn was involved with the development of the Cathedral precinct project until August 2015, when he relocated to Melbourne.

He told Catholic Voice he was greatly surprised to hear he had been chosen to receive the Papal honour.

Herbie O’Flynn announces Pope John Paul II’s visit to Canberra at an Archdiocesan pastoral council meeting on October 2, 1986. PHOTO: LOUI SESELJA

Herbie O’Flynn announces Pope John Paul II’s visit to Canberra at an Archdiocesan pastoral
council meeting on October 2, 1986. PHOTO: LOUI SESELJA

“Initially you think ‘Well, why me? There are so many other people that are so good who run the place’,” he said.

“It’s quite an honour and very humbling.”

Monsignor John Woods, who worked closely with Mr O’Flynn for many years, said he was a worthy recipient of the Papal knighthood.

“Herbie is a genuine person who endeared himself to all manner of people in his work for the Archdiocese,” Mgr Woods said.

“There is no significant area of Archdiocesan life over the past three decades that has not been positively impacted by Herbie.

“He was a pleasure to work with, not least because of his sense of humour but above all because of his grounded Catholic faith. Herbie is counted as both colleague and friend by many.”

Mr O’Flynn said he enjoyed working for the Archdiocese immensely, particularly cherishing the friendships he made along the way.

“The real enjoyment has been working as a layman in the Archdiocese and collaborating with the priests and religious and the hierarchy,” he said.

“It’s given me a great insight into the Church but I’ve also met a lot of wonderful people. It started with the Pope’s visit in 1986, and that sort of opened my eyes to the complexity of the Church, and yet its simplicity and its beauty.

“I miss the people. When you look back, it’s not the big events like the Pope’s visit and starting the CDF… it’s the people you meet… so many priests and religious sisters I’ve worked with and all the wonderful lay people.”

The Order of St Gregory the Great is one of the five pontifical Orders of Knighthood in the Catholic Church.

The Order is bestowed on Catholic men and women in recognition of their service to the Church, support of the Holy See, and the good example set in their Catholic communities and country.