Papal Medal for Accountant Who Saved Diocese
By Graham Wilson – At an evening Mass at the parish church of St James, Cape Town, Archbishop Stephen Brislin presented archdiocesan accountant Anne Stafford with the Bene Merenti Medal, conferred on her by Pope Francis for her years of selfless service to the Church.
The ceremony was attended by 50 family and friends, including Mrs Stafford’s husband of 50 years, Bert, her children and grandchildren, Mgr Jock Baird, Fr Hugh O’Connor, Fr Robert Bissell, and St James parish priest Fr Mark Pothier.
Mrs Stafford qualified as a chartered accountant in Britain in 1965, winning a prize in partnership accounts, at a time when few women entered the field.
Afterwards, she worked as an accountant in London and Zambia, before moving from Qatar with her husband to Cape Town in 1971.
In the early 1980s, Mrs Stafford was asked to help the Catholic Welfare Bureau (now CWD) with its finances.
She worked at CWD as financial director for ten years, during which time the organisation grew tremendously.
In 1997 she was asked by Bishop Reginald Cawcutt and Archbishop Lawrence Henry to take on an even bigger task: to help the archdiocese of Cape Town recover from bankruptcy.
At the ceremony, Archbishop Brislin commended Mrs Stafford for her selfless efforts, far beyond the call of duty, in which she helped lift the archdiocese out of bankruptcy and set it on the course of financial stability and self-sustainability that continues to today.
For the next 15 years Mrs Stafford worked in the finance department of the archdiocese until her retirement in 2014 at age 70.
Among many things, she has served as a trustee of the Catholic Schools Trust, making an invaluable contribution to the good governance, maintenance and ethos of Catholic schools in Cape Town.
Mrs Stafford continues to serve on the Archdiocesan Finance Council, where her advice and good sense are valued by the archbishop.
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