It was largely through the work of Mr Bob Walsh (right) that the Social Welfare Commission had established its reputation of reliability and efficiency, Bishop Harris of Middlesbrough told those attending a Mass and reception for Mr Walsh's retirement last week.
Miss Loreto Lynch, the cornmission's retiring chairwoman, and Mr Bill O'Neill of Shelter, also paid tribute to Mr Walsh, who officially retires as Commision Secretary on December 31. He will be suceeded by Mr Nick Coote.
Mr Walsh will, however, continue to represent the commission at some national and international meetings. He intends to devote some of his increased leisure time to local government work, in which he has been interested for many years.
Mr Walsh has been the commission's secretary since its in ception in 1967. Born in London in 1911, he began his career as a Post Office messenger boy at the age of 15.
After testing his vocation to the religious life for two years with the Franciscans at Buckingham, he went to work for London United Tramways. Mr Walsh helped to organise the National Catholic Tramwaysmen's Guild, and has always kept a keen interest in the world of work.
For two years Mr Walsh was circulation manager of the Catholic Herald, a post he left to become Editor of the New Catholic Worker, a job he held for many years broken by wartime service in the King's Regiment.
From 1959 to 1967 Mr Walsh was secretary of the Catholic Social Guild.