This article was written by Todd Dagwell and originally appeared in Aurora, the monthly magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle April, 2019.

Lidy Waanders used to prefer keeping her good deeds quiet until she recalled the message of one of her favourite scripture passages – “don’t hide your light under a bushel when you are shining Christ’s light for others to see”.

Lidy’s tireless dedication in support of her parish, St Brigid’s Raymond Terrace, and the Diocese as a whole, saw her declared the winner of the third annual Magdalene Award by Bishop Bill at Cathedral House in March.

“There are so many wonderful women in this Diocese so I was very surprised to win,” she said.

“I usually prefer to be more in the background but then I recalled a favourite scripture passage about letting God’s light shine bright. Importantly this award is about trying to make the light of women shine in the church and elevate their position.”

Judy Crittenden, Sue Campbell and Petrina Massey also received citations at the award ceremony for their positive contribution to the Diocese.

Bishop Bill thanked the nominees for their service and noted that women excelled at engaging and encouraging others to become more involved in parish life.

“Many of our parishes would not have changed the way they do things for the past 50 or 60 years and I think it takes a woman’s touch, and her networking skills, to bring about that much needed change,” he said.

The child of Dutch immigrants, Lidy Waanders was only eight years old when she arrived in Australia. She credited her parent’s commitment to Catholic education for beginning her life of faith and service to the Church. “I have always been inspired by Mary Magdalene because of her devotion to discipleship, service and evangelisation,” she said.

Throughout her life Lidy has sought to emulate these qualities by giving her time to key pastoral and liturgical programs in the Diocese that seek to spread God’s message. One of her most substantial contributions was the 16 years she spent as a co-ordinator of Special Religious Education (SRE) in the public school system.

She also takes communion to the sick, is a World Day of Prayer organiser, leads special liturgy and Sunday Celebrations in Anticipation of Eucharist and is heavily involved in bringing people to the Church via the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

“All of these programs allow us to build the faith,” Lidy said. “I thank the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle contact group of the Council for Australian Catholic Women for their foresight in creating this positive award for women.”

Todd Dagwell is the Senior Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.