Principal awarded medal by Pope

St Thomas Aquinas Primary Springwood Principal, Sergio Rosato was awarded a Papal Medal for his exemplary courage in evacuating his entire school during life-threatening bushfires in October 2013.

The Catholic Bishop of Parramatta, Archbishop Anthony Fisher presented the medal to Sergio at a ceremony held on the one-year anniversary of the 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires, the school’s website said.

In conferring the award, Archbishop Anthony Fisher acknowledged Sergio for remaining calm and dedicated, ensuring every child was accounted for and safely reunited with their families.

“This was despite his awareness that his own home had been destroyed,” Archbishop Anthony Fisher said. “The actions of Mr Sergio Rosato were heroic and exceptional”.

“He is a man of strong faith, strong moral principles and integrity, and a proactive member of his Parish.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher conferred the Benemerenti medal on behalf of Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis has advised me that ‘in recognition of his singular service to the Christian life’ Mr Sergio Rosato is awarded the gold papal medal ‘Benemerenti’.”

The Benemerenti medal was instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, their families and community.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher presented the school with a Certificate of Appreciation to the teachers and staff for their outstanding commitment to the children in their care that day and every day.

Led by Sergio, St Thomas Aquinas was forced to evacuate over 600 staff and students on 17 October 2013 as the bushfires threatened the school property. The students and staff walked calmly and bravely to safety to the Winmalee Shopping Centre despite some of their own homes being damaged or lost during the fires.

IEU Exchange Coordinator Helen Gregory, Teachers Health Fund representatives recently visited the school for morning tea. Sergio’s wife Keryne also teaches at the school and is also a member of the IEU.

Helen alerted Teachers Health Fund that the pair had lost their home and the Fund waived some of their fees.

Helen said Sergio has been a supportive Principal regarding the IEU’s exchange program. The most recent exchange was two years ago with Michelle Nightingale (pictured).

Teachers Health Fund did a story on Sergio and filmed him as part of their 60th Anniversary celebrations last year.

The Fund hosted the morning tea for Sergio and all the staff as a thank you for allowing them to film at the school.