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During the recent Catholic Education Week, Sr. Rovena Duffy RSM was announced as the 2016 Docemus Award Recipient for Life Long Contribution to Education. The Docemus Awards (Latin for, ‘I teach!’) were established in 2002 to honour the memory of Tom Doolan, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Catholic Education in the Cairns Diocese.  They acknowledge and celebrate the exceptional commitment, achievement and contribution to Catholic Education by members of its community.

Sister Rovena is one of Catholic Education’s longest serving educators, and without a doubt, she is much loved. She entered the Convent of Mercy in Herberton in 1962, and has engaged in exceptionally life-giving relationships with students, colleagues and other members of the Catholic Education community for more than 50 years.

Sister Rovena’s outstanding service has included teaching positions at Ravenshoe, Gordonvale, Mt. St. Bernard College, on the Thursday Island and with the Tablelands Motor Mission.  She also served as the principal of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on Thursday Island, St Rita’s in Babinda, and Our Lady Help of Christians in Earlville.  There was no task too small for Sr. Rovena, and those who worked with her recognise her compassion, dedication and commitment.  Her patient and understanding manner gave her great success when working with students for whom English was their second language (ESL), and she provided ESL support at St Joseph’s and Our Lady Help of Christians schools, up until her retirement at the end of 2015. It is worth noting that Sr. Rovena was the last of our current Sisters of Mercy working directly in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Cairns.

Beyond all of this, arguably her greatest asset when it came to education, was her incredibly natural and gentle way with children, allowing them to feel very safe, and therefore comfortable to learn.

Sister Rovena has shown herself to be a life-long learner, with a range of qualifications from Diplomas through to Master’s Degrees in Education, Religious Education and Music. She has also served as a member of the Leadership Team for the former Cairns Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, and as a Local Superior of several convents.

Sr. Rovena’s receipt of the Docemus Life Long Contribution to Education Award reflects her wonderful commitment and service to the local church, and generations of people and it is fitting that she has been recognised in this way!


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