Maurice O’Dwyer, born in 1880, was brought up on the NSW South Coast, and moved to Pyrmont by the time he was 19. He was not only a reliable and much loved milkman: he became a St Bede’s parishioner in 1899, and joined the local St Vincent de Paul Conference, of which he was made Treasurer, then Secretary, and finally President. At various times he was also worked for the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benevolent Society, and the Holy Name Society.
After 54 years of devoted service he was awarded a papal honour, the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice of Leo, to acknowledge his – and his wife Nellie’s – many years of generous support for the poor, and heroic involvement in every parish venture. Among other tasks, Maurice and Nellie shared the keyboard of the church organ. It was universally understood that St Bede’s was the focus of their lives. Understandably, the conferral of the papal order attracted a large and emotional crowd to the church.