February 19, 2016 – We are pleased to announce the recipients of the papal honors of Chaplain to His Holiness, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, and Benerementi. The recipients will be honored during a private ceremony in April at the Bethany Center.
The following priests have been named Chaplains to His Holiness:
- Rev. Monsignor Ronald Aubin
- Rev. Monsignor Dennis Hughes
- Rev. Monsignor Joseph Pellegrino
The following lay persons will receive the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal:
- Sue Ann Brett – Cathedral of St. Jude, St. Petersburg
- Michael Lewis Carrere – Christ the King, Tampa
- Jeffrey Alan Darrey – Christ the King, Tampa
- Norman P. Dusseault – St. Paul, St. Petersburg
- Robert Celestino Fernandez, MD – St. John Vianney, St. Pete Beach
- Gerald Phillip Giglia – St. Timothy, Lutz
- Richard O. Gonzmart – St. Lawrence, Tampa
- Anita Angela Hamrock – St. Catherine of Siena, Clearwater
- Ondina C. Hernandez – St. Mary, Tampa
- Arthur Francis Kirk – St. Leo Abbey/St. Rita Catholic Church, Dade City
- Frank Vincent Murphy – St. Patrick, Largo
- Paulette Jabour Purvis – Espiritu Santo, Safety Harbor
- William George Ulbricht – Nativity, Brandon
- Hector Vila, Jr., MD – Christ the King, Tampa
The following person will receive the Benemerenti Medal:
- Michael Robert Zelenka – Incarnation, Tampa
Chaplain to His Holiness is an honor bestowed upon a diocesan priest for exceptional service to the Church. The priest is now addressed as Monsignor and has certain privileges with respect to ecclesiastical dress and vestments if they choose. Diocesan priests are nominated by their bishop to receive this award. In January 2014, Pope Francis announced through the Secretariat of State that a diocesan priest must be at least 65 years old before being considered for the honorary title of “Monsignor.” Previously, there was no minimum age. Also, prior to 2014, there were three ranks of monsignori but the Holy Father has since narrowed it down to one: “Chaplain to His Holiness.” Priests from religious institutes do not receive this title.
The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal is bestowed for distinguished service to the Church by lay people and clergy. It is the highest honor that can be awarded to laity by the Pope. The Diocesan Bishop petitions the Holy See with the names and biographical information of those whom he wishes to receive the award.
The current version of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal is gold and is in the shape of a cross, which has been made octagonal in design. On the obverse of the medal are the images of Saints Peter and Paul, under which is inscribed the Latin name of the current pope. On the left arm of the cross in the inscription “Pro Ecclesia” and on the right arm is inscribed “et Pontifice”. At the point of the top arm of the cross is the coat of arms of the reigning pope. At the points of the other arms are small Greek crosses.
The Diocesan Bishop can nominate potential recipients when he sees fit to do so and there is no frequency in which the award is given. In our diocese, the medal was last presented in 2013 and was previously given in 2008.
The Benerementi Medal is an honor bestowed upon clergy or laity by the Pope in recognition of service to the Church. The current version of the Benerementi Medal is gold and in the shape of a cross, which has been made octagonal in design. The cross depicts Christ with his arms raised in blessing. On the left arm of the cross is the symbol of the papacy and on the right arm is the coat of arms of the reigning pope.