Papal Honour for Columban Sister Catherine Lillis
‘Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Sr Catherine Lillis SSC (93) was presented with this prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award for distinguished service to the Catholic Church by Bishop Tom Deenihan on behalf of Pope Francis, at Mass in St Mary's Church in Navan. It was attended by her Columban community, the Tabor House community, and the people of Navan.
Sr Catherine Lillis was born on the 23rd of October in 1929 in Querrin, Kilkee, Co Clare. Her father was a teacher and her older sister joined the Columban community before she did. As a young woman, Catherine entered the Columban Convent in Ennis and spent some time in the Far East working on the missions.
Sr Catherine began her missionary life in Burma, now Myanmar, where she directed the Columban Sisters’ medical clinic in the town of Manbaw. When the military took over she went to Hong Kong and worked there in the Columban TB hospital. In the early 1980s she helped set up a rehabilitation hospital in Egypt which treated soldiers left paralysed in the conflict between that country and Israel.
She travelled to the US where she trained as an addiction counsellor in the early 70′s in Chicago. On her return to Ireland, she worked in the Rutland Centre initially and subsequently in Dublin’s Inner City for many years with the then Health Board. Sr Catherine has devoted years of her life to working as an addiction counsellor, she was the driving force behind setting up Tabor House in Navan, a drug treatment residential facility for men. Her main focus today is the setting up a similar facility for women.