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On Sunday 2nd July, in front of a church filled with family and friends, Deacon Tito Pereira was surprised with a Benemerenti medal at his parish, Our Lady of Lourdes in Acton.

The parish priest, Fr Patrick Adusei Poku had applied for the Benemerenti last year, awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Church, to recognise Deacon Tito’s service of over 35 years to the parish and as a deacon since 2007.

Throughout the application process, there had to be absolute secrecy as Fr Patrick made enquiries to build evidence to submit to the Vatican. He managed to accumulate over 30 pages of evidence to show Deacon Tito’s years of service, celebrating many baptisms and marriages for parishioners, as well as supporting the community.

Deacon Tito, who was visibly moved, was given a standing ovation by parishioners as his wife pinned the Benemerenti medal on him. After the Mass, there was a chance to celebrate with him in the parish hall.