Cardinal presents medal to nun for lifetime's teaching in Pakistan

Sister Berchmans Conway described as 'a constant inspiration to many generations of teachers and students'
Cardinal presents medal to nun for lifetime's teaching in Pakistan

Sisters Berchmans Conway attends the award ceremony at Westminster Cathedral on July 17 with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Pakistan's High Commissioner Mohammad Nafees Zakaria and Irish Ambassador Adrian O'Neill. (Photo supplied) reporter, Lahore
July 18, 2019
An Irish nun who has worked tirelessly to educate youngsters in Pakistan has been honored in Britain.

At the St. Mary's University graduation ceremony at Westminster Cathedral on July 17, Cardinal Vincent Nichols presented the Benedict Medal, the university's highest honor, to Sister Berchmans Conway in recognition of a lifetime's teaching and promoting interfaith relations. The cardinal is the archbishop of Westminster and chancellor of St. Mary's.

Born in Ireland in 1930, Sister Berchmans joined the Convent of Jesus and Mary in 1951 in Willesden, London, and has spent over 65 years teaching, mostly in Pakistan, where she has taught students of different faiths at the Convents of Jesus and Mary in Lahore, Murree and Karachi.

Among her pupils were Benazir Bhutto, the first female Muslim prime minister in the world, and astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala.

Calling Sister Berchmans “a constant inspiration to many generations of teachers and students,” Cardinal Nichols said in his homily that she “is a shining example of all that is to be found at the heart of Catholic education: not a narrow self-interest but a radical openness to our human family.”

He added: “Our desire is always to offer all that is best to whoever will come, contribute and receive, wherever there is space and opportunity, which is not easy to achieve in some present circumstances.

“This, of course, is the vision of Catholic education that shapes St. Mary’s University: committed to the common good of society, open to other faiths in dialogue and respect, firm in its foundations of service and truth, generous in the personal effort invested in the work.'

Sister Berchmans was awarded the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam, one of the highest civil honors, by the president of Pakistan in 2012 for the “great contribution she has made to the well-being of that country.”

Many of her pupils in Karachi, where she currently teaches, and their parents wrote to the cardinal asking that St. Mary’s recognize her dedication and achievements.

Sister Berchmans is only the fifth recipient of the award, named in honor of Pope Benedict XVI.

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