Eileen Lander, former principal of St Monica’s Catholic College and the Chancellor of the Marriage Tribunal in the Cairns Diocese, has a heart for the poor and marginalised. This heart, particularly for the people of Cairns, has manifested in her putting on a Rosies red shirt to serve Rosies patrons year in, year out–not even a cyclone could keep Eileen from service. In this way, Eileen has demonstrated the Rosies daring spirit: caring for people the rest of society had forgotten or ignored.
While Eileen is a woman of many gifts, perhaps her greatest is the ability to make anyone feel comfortable and accepted. Regardless of her role, be it in the Bishop’s office or on the street, her focus is on serving people: “I just come and try to be a support, to be there for people in need; to assist wherever I can.”
Although she’s now retired from Rosies, friends of Eileen speak of how Rosies always came first in her busy calendar. One friend says when discussing dates for social outings, Eileen was always firm that Rosies was her key priority. When on outreach, Eileen’s presence was the main service – strong and compassionate. Still, she would always try give more – a homemade lasagne and ice-creams were a regular addition to the nights Eileen served.
Eileen has made it her life mission to serve others. While she has held high positions in the Church she has consistently ‘walked the talk’ of service and living the gospel values. These values are not only seen in a natural disaster, but in quiet, consistent way of showing up, being present and not hiding behind executive titles. Others have said Dickens was referring to Eileen when he wrote: “Some great people make others feel small, but the really great people are those who make others feel great.”
Unfortunately Eileen had to stop serving as a Rosies volunteer two years ago because of ill health. Still, it is a privilege to acknowledge the love and joy in which she has offered friendship to our Cairns patrons which is why she has been awarded an honorary lifetime Rosies acknowledgement.