St Thomas Aquinas Springwood Parish

Molly Hurley feels ‘very blessed’ to lend a helping hand at Springwood


Catholic Outlook May 2013 Mary Hurley Story
Molly and grandson Matthew with St Thomas Aquinas Springwood Parish Priest, Fr Paul Slyney.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook May 2013

By Virginia Knight

At the end of 2012, Mary ‘Molly’ Hurley received the Diocesan Medal of Honour for her compassionate, practical and spiritual assistance to those in need in her parish and school communities of St Thomas Aquinas at Springwood.

The medal also recognises Molly’s wider community involvement through her work with the Catholic Women’s League and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

When her fellow recipients received their medals from the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, in St Patrick’s Cathedral on the feast of Christ the King, Molly was attending her grandson Matthew’s First Holy Communion at St Thomas Aquinas Parish in Springwood.

The medal presentation was made at the conclusion of Mass by Pastor Emeritus Fr Peter Connolly and Parish Priest Fr Paul Slyney.

A lovely memory for our family

Catholic Outlook May 2013 Mary Hurley Story
The joint celebration was a joyous occasion for Molly and her family.

Through her volunteer work with St Vincent de Paul, Molly said she felt very blessed. “There are those who through no fault of their own need help and I feel that if you can do something, you should,” she said.

“A lot of those you help just need someone to visit once in a while, and they are so grateful. It gives me a sense of fulfilment because I really like doing it.”

When Molly was informed of the award in a letter from Fr Arthur Bridge, Chairman of the Diocesan Honours Committee, she received it with mixed emotions.

“I was delighted, but when I read in the letter that the ceremony was to be held on the same day as my grandson’s First Communion I knew I had no chance of attending as I was going to be with Matthew,” she said.

“Fr Paul and Fr Peter made it a very special occasion. I received the medal at the end of Mass after all the first communicants had been acknowledged.

“It was lovely to be in our own parish, with family and friends who came along especially for both events. And it will be a lovely memory for our family as it was a joint celebration. Matthew still talks about it.”

Molly grew up in Penrith but moved to Springwood in 1961 when she married Ted (Edward) Hurley. The couple settled in St Thomas Aquinas Parish as Ted had been born and educated in the district and, at the time, owned and operated a butchery. The couple have four sons.

Molly’s volunteer career began in earnest in 1967 after the birth of their youngest child when she joined the parish committee and immersed herself in parish and school life, responsible for organising debutante balls.

“I trained the debs in everything but dance, which was expertly done by parishioners and ballroom dancers Des and Rowena Cook. The kids didn’t know one step from another,” she said. “When they started, the boys were unimpressed but by the end they were very interested and keen to learn. It was great to see them go through the transformation.”

Molly and Ted’s children attended the same primary schools as their father and Molly adds proudly that eight of her 10 grandchildren are still living and going to school in the Springwood area.

As a result, Molly has worked continually at St Thomas Aquinas Primary since the 1970s as a member of the P&F, organising fundraising events like the school fete and participating in school activities such as the Mothers’ Club.

In 1983, Molly was one of the founding members and the inaugural president of the Springwood branch of the Catholic Women’s League. She said she was drawn to this organisation because her mother had been a member.

She approached the parish priest at the time, Fr James O’Meara, and with his approval recruited 30 members. She continued as president for 10 years and has been on the CWL Diocesan Executive.

“The CWL is a great organisation and we do so much for the disadvantaged and people in need,” Molly said. Each branch supports a chosen diocesan charity, making an annual donation from the year’s fundraising activities.

For many years the Santa Maria Centre at Lawson (which has since been reassigned) was the recipient of the Springwood branch’s activities.

“Initially, it was a holiday venue for handicapped young adults and children and their carers. I always felt that but for the grace of God it could have been me,” Molly said, explaining her personal interest in the centre.

Actively involved in the life of the parish

Catholic Outlook May 2013 Mary Hurley Story
Molly Hurley is still actively involved in the life of Springwood Parish.
Photo: Virginia Knight.

As something of a parish historian, Molly has been compiling a pictorial archive of the parish since the 1980s. Whenever something of note is taking place you can be sure Molly will be on hand, camera at the ready to record it for posterity and add the photos to her growing archive.

Many people continue to give her copies of photos from the early history of Springwood Parish. She has photos going back to 1921, featuring the first church and early school, and maintains a collection of newspapers and newsletters.

Most recently, Molly has become involved in the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society. “Ted was always very active in St Vincent de Paul and after his death I took over his role,” she said.

“It is visitation work, providing contact for people in need, giving comfort, compassion and practical help.”

Now living in the Buckland Retirement Village, Molly is still actively involved in the life of Springwood Parish, visiting local nursing homes as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist.

There are plenty of organised activities on offer in the village but Molly is still involved in her community work and, consequently, is too busy to take part!

“I have lots of beautiful neighbours who have become new friends and life is good,” she said. “For the future, I will plod along as I am. Life is full of limitless opportunities and I delight in all of them. I thank God I continue to have the health to do so.”

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