Diocese of Lake Charles
LAKE CHARLES — Honors conferred by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, were publicly received by 17 laity of the Diocese of Lake Charles in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday, February 13.
His Excellency, The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, D.D., M.A., officiated the Solemn Vespers for the Conferral of Papal Honors at 6:00 p.m. He was assisted by the Very Reverend Ruben J. Buller, Vicar General; Reverend Samuel Bond, Master of Ceremonies; Deacon George Stearns, Chancellor; and Deacon Brian Soileau, Secretary for the Ministry of Christian Formation.
Six were named Knight in the Order of Saint Gregory the Great; two received the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Cross for the Church and Pontiff); and nine received the Papal Medal Benemerenti (Well-Deserving).
Pope Francis conferred the honors at the request of Bishop Provost.
“We are gathered in our Cathedral today to confer Papal honors upon distinguished men and women of our diocese,” Bishop Provost said. “We could have honored others as well, but to paraphrase the words of St. Paul, when one is honored, all share in the joy (cf. I Corinthians 12:26). This is how the Church rejoices.”
“Our celebration springs not from their desire but from ours, for we, like St. Paul, must thank God for the Christian service and example made visible in the lives of these faithful Catholic Christians,” the bishop continued.
Those named Knight in the Order of Saint Gregory the Great are:
- Derek Conner – St. John Vianney Parish in Bell City
- David DesOrmeaux – Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
- Kevin Leonard – Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish in Sulphur
- Robert “Bob” McCall – St. Margaret of Scotland Parish
- Neill Rowland – St. Margaret of Scotland Parish
- Jared Watson – Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
The honor of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great is one of five pontifical orders of knighthood bestowed on Catholic men and women in recognition of their personal service to the Church and their good example in the community. Bishop Provost conferred the insignia of the Order of Knighthood with an embrace.
Recipients of the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice are: Mitch Martin and Connie Dronette, both of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Sulphur.
The Papal Cross was established by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 for distinguished service to the Church by members of the laity or clergy. It is the highest honor which can be bestowed upon lay men and women.
Those honored with the Papal Medal Benemerenti are:
- Arnold Bellow – St. Margaret of Scotland Parish
- Suzanne Hebert – Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish
- Sharon Jones – Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish
- Lea Poncho – St. Martin de Porres Parish
- Deborah Richard – St. Henry Parish
- Michael Richard – Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish
- Martha Simmons – St. Margaret of Scotland Parish
- Blaine Wyninger – Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish
- Denise Wyninger – Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish
Pope Gregory XVI instituted the Benemerenti Medal in 1832 for great service to the Church by members of the laity or clergy.
Bishop Provost reminded the honorees to never take for granted any act of goodness on their part.
“We indeed learn from the wise, and when that teacher’s wisdom comes from a humble heart and mind, the lesson is even more valuable,” he said.
“It is this dedication to the message of Christ and His Church that we celebrate today. Our thanksgiving is for the goodness that has shown forth in the lives of these humble men and women. They have given of themselves to the vulnerable, the helpless, and the young.
“They have built up the Body of Christ by promoting family values and solid Christian teachings. They have not compromised with the world but rather strived to convert the world, slowly and surely, one humble act at a time. They are the ‘firstfruits,’ sanctified by the Spirit and truth.”
When the Papal honors were first announced in December of 2021, Bishop Provost congratulated the recipients for being recognized in this way.
“In the Diocese of Lake Charles, there are so many good men and women who labor in their Church parishes and at the diocesan level, assisting the needy, teaching the Gospel message, and fostering the Christian life in their families, schools, and communities,” he said. “God bless them all!”
Following the joyful ceremony of honors, a reception for family and friends was held in the Ave Maria Hall. Read more about the recipients and their service to the Church here.