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Papal and royal wishes as Olga reaches 100

Devout Thetford parishioner Olga Devonish has celebrated her 100th birthday by attending Mass and being presented with a Papal Blessing.

On Sunday August 14, the loyal parishioner of St Mary’s Catholic Church celebrated her 100th birthday. Olga Devonish has been attending St Mary’s for almost 60 years, ever since she moved to the Thetford in the 1960s. Throughout the years, she has played an active role in role in parish life, most notably helping with the St Vincent De Paul Society (SVP)

Paul Gilbert, Chair of St Mary’s PPC, said: “When St Mary’s used to have a minibus that was funded by the SVP, it was Olga who volunteered to be the drivers’ assistant, helping those who were sick, elderly or suffering from mobility issues. In fact, it was Olga who was the oldest on the minibus! Olga would also volunteer to help those who had difficulties in walking. On the way back from Walsingham, she would organise that the minibus would stop at a fish and chip shop. No one was left out. 

“In addition, Olga would often help with fundraising activities for the parish and the local community. When there was a function she would help run raffles. Quite often, if Olga did not see someone as they came into the function, she would get them when they left so that all people contributed to the fundraising efforts. There was no getting away. When Olga had you in her eyes, that was it, there was no getting away from not paying.”

Even at her great age, Olga still attends Sunday Mass on a weekly basis. In fact, she walks (or runs) to and from Mass like a 21-year-old. 

Paul said: “Olga is very much a faithful stalwart of St Mary’s and parishioners are very much in awe of her incredible attitude to life.

“She is one of the kindest people there is, and there is nothing that is too much trouble for her. Olga wholeheartedly believes that her strong faith has been a determinant to her longevity and having a positive outlook on life.”

Olga was presented with a Papal Blessing to make the occasion even more special and was accompanied by her family. Paul said: “Olga was overcome with emotion as this was something she never thought would happen to her.”

Olga was also pleased to receive the customary Royal birthday card, signed by Her Majesty the Queen.

Pictured top is Olga Devonish with her Papal Blessing at St Mary’s Church in Thetford an, below, with her birthday card from the Queen.