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Pope honours Aussie friend

From 1950 to 1979, Signorina Concetta “Connie” Izzi worked in the Australian Embassy in Rome. She was responsible for assisting thousands of Italians in their search for a new start in Australia, especially during the tough years of Menzies immigration policy. What very few people know about, however, is the work that Connie carried out to settle Aussies in Rome in a time when Australian diplomatic relations were less than friendly to Australian Catholic priests living, studying and working in Rome.

Archbishop John Bathersby (Brisbane), Bishops Michael Putney (Townsville) and Peter Connors (Ballarat), Mons. Bill Mullins (Sydney), Frs. Ray Kearney and Peter Gillam (Brisbane) were just some of the recipients of Connies hospitality and care. She often had the Aussies to meals and she was a friend at the Embassy.

In March of this year, the above mentioned bishops recommended Connie to Pope John Paul II, to be awarded the Cross PRO ECCLESIA ET PONTIFICE, as a sign of gratitude for her faithful care of Australians in Rome – which was regularly carried out in a manner above and beyond the call of duty.

The bishops requested that Fr. Anthony Randazzo, who is currently working at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, present the Papal Honour to Signorina Izzi on their behalf.

On Sunday, 20 June 2004 at the Domus Paulus VI in Rome, the presentation was made, followed by lunch. Invited guests included Australian priests Frs. Julian Wellspring (Canberra-Goulburn), Kevin Taylor (Adelaide), James McEvoy (Adelaide), and Signorina Meggy Schelpe (Rome).

Connie was deeply moved by the Papal Honour, and in her humble and friendly manner, she asked several times, “Are you sure that they have they right person?”

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