Joy, gratitude as 56 receive papal, diocesan honors at Mass

Photo Caption: Rebecca and Darwin Builta of Sacred Heart Parish in Farmer City accept a St. Isidore Rural Family Life Award from Bishop Jenky at the Mass for the Conferral of Ecclesiastical Honors.

By: By Tom Dermody

As Thanksgiving week opened, the Diocese of Peoria and even Pope Benedict XVI expressed profound gratitude to 56 local Catholics for their outstanding service and example of faith-inspired lives.

“I have the great privilege to thank you on behalf of the Lord for all you do to make His Gospel alive,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, after bestowing papal and diocesan honors during a joyful Mass last Sunday at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Applause from family and friends echoed repeatedly as the honorees came forward to receive symbols of their awards and personal words of appreciation from Bishop Jenky.

The 2012 Conferral of Eccclesiastical Honors came at the start of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI and served as the closing event for a jubilee year being celebrated by Bishop Jenky. The bishop is marking 10 years as Bishop of Peoria and his 15th year of episcopal ordination.

A full list of the honorees appears at the end of this story.

“The papal and diocesan honors recognize that these folks never forgot to offer Christian service as they faithfully await the Day of the Lord,” said Bishop Jenky in his homily. “They have seen the face of Christ in the faces of their neighbor.

“In all sorts of ways they have loved and ministered,” he continued, noting that the honorees are representative of thousands of “living stones” of the church throughout the diocese. “They have healed and comforted, they have taught and inspired. They have managed and organized in all the daily good works that make the Diocese of Peoria a true community of faith and love.”

Many of the honorees told The Catholic Post they are active in the church as a way of giving back for blessings they have received.

“God has been very good to me through my life and career, so to give back I do what I can,” said Josephine Thompson, a trustee and active leader at St. Mary’s Parish in Westville. She was among 24 recipients of the Pere Marquette Award from the diocese.

“From my early youth I felt called to be part of the church and to serve, so that’s what I have done. And the opportunities have been interesting and extraordinary,” said Sister Margaret Schulz, CSJ, assistant principal of student affairs at Peoria Notre Dame High School. Sister Margaret was one of nine receiving honors from Pope Benedict XVI. Hers was the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” Medal, which means, “For the Church and the Pontiff.”

Cindy Migliorini, a religious education teacher at Sacred Heart Parish in Granville, gave a goal-oriented reason for her service.

“I want to get to heaven,” said Cindy, who with her husband Bill received one of nine St. Isidore Rural Family Life Awards bestowed on Sunday. “And I want my kids to get to heaven, too.”

Bishop Jenky greeted each honoree and posed for photos with them prior to the Mass. A reception for the honorees took place following the Mass at the Spalding Pastoral Center.

The honorees were introduced during the Mass by Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, who was also an awards recipient. Gibson, the diocese’s first lay chancellor who is marking 10 years of service, was made a Dame of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory, a papal honor.

The Mass was concelebrated by dozens of priests, many representing the parishes of the honorees. Two of the priests spoke to The Catholic Post about honorees that could not be in attendance.

Father Ted Pracz, pastor of Holy Famly Parish in Danville, said he offered his Mass for Deacon Richard Smith, a permanent deacon of the parish and a posthumous recipient of the Pere Marquette Award. Deacon Smith died on Sept. 2, and his award was accepted by his wife, Von.

“He was a very humble and very dedicated man,” said Father Pracz of Deacon Smith, who served as a deacon for 20 years. “He never said no to anything,” said Father Pracz, noting Deacon Smith continued to visit the sick even during his own illness.

“That’s what a good deacon is, a servant,” said Father Pracz.

Father Eugene Radosevich, pastor of St. Luke’s Parish in Eureka, lamented that parishioner Thomas J. Eckert — a recipient of the diocese’s Joseph H. Schlarman Award — could not attend because of an injury he sustained the day before the ceremony.

Like so many of the recipients, Eckert is “one of the go-to guys in our parish,” said Father Radosevich. The parish trustee has a special concern for the aging, he added, and has been a minister to the sick and homebound for 10 years.

At the close of the awards ceremony, Gibson announced that the diocese received word that Bishop Jenky is the recipient of a “Patriotic Employer Award” for his support for Father Jeffrey Laible, a priest of the diocese who serves as Lieutenant Colonel and chaplain in the Illinois Air National Guard. General Frank Rezac, a retired Air National Guard brigadier general, presented Bishop Jenky with a certificate from the Department of Defense, as Father Laible — pastor of parishes in Lincoln, Atlanta, Elkhart, and Mt. Pulaski — looked on.

“The priests and people of your diocese have proudly supported your efforts to defend the freedom of religion promised by the Constitution of the United States,” said Gibson, in introducing the award. “Over these recent months you have shown us all how to be faithful Catholics and patriotic Americans. Your efforts to defend liberty have also been noticed by members of our armed services.”

Bishop Jenky humbly acknowledged applause for him on a day in which he shined the church’s spotlight on others.

“All of this and Notre Dame (football) is undefeated, too!,” said the bishop to laughter from the assembly.

Bishop Jenky noted the word Eucharist means “thanksgiving,” and said “we have no better way of thanking those we honor than by assembling to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”


Following is a list of the papal and diocesan honorees. Brief biographies of the awards recipients appeared in a previous issue of The Catholic Post.


Knight of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory: John Bannon, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Peoria

Dame of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory: Patricia Gibson, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Peoria Heights

Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal
Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, East Peoria
Deacon Fred and Gail Kruse, St. Edward’s Parish, Chillicothe
Sister Kathleen Mullin, BVM, Sacred Heart Parish, Moline
Sister Margaret Schulz, CSJ, Peoria Notre Dame High School, Peoria
Sister Diane VandeVoorde, OSF, Office of Permanent Diaconate, Peoria

Benemerenti Medal
Joy Allen, St. Matthew’s Parish, Champaign, and Central Catholic High School, Bloomington
Rita Kress, St. Joseph’s Parish, Brimfield
Colin Letendre, St. Pius X Parish, Rock Island, and Alleman High School, Rock Island


Archbishop Joseph H. Schlarman Award

Nancy Joan Conness, St. Patrick’s Parish, Ottawa
Brother Kevin Duckson, OFM, St. Mary’s Parish, Bloomington
Thomas J. Eckert, St. Luke’s Parish, Eureka
Judith Kay Krumholz, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Morton
Marguerite L. Lonegra, St. Valentine’s Parish, Peru
Irene Majeske, St. Mary’s Parish, Kewanee
Carolyn McElrath, St. Patrick’s Parish, Urbana
Father Daniel J. Mirabelli, CSV, Alleman High School, Rock Island
Elaine M. Ossola, Sacred Heart Parish, Granville
Roger Phelps, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Mahomet
Marilee Provost, St. Patrick’s Church of Merna, Bloomington
Katie Wille, St. Mary’s Parish, Pontiac

Pere Marquette Award

Patricia Arnold, St. Paul’s Parish, Macomb
Margaret Aubry, St. Mary’s Parish, Utica
Katherine Anne Bogner, Immaculate Conception Parish, Lacon
Kathleen Boone, St. Augustine Parish, St. Augustine
Matthew Harrison Eppel, OFS, St. Jude’s Parish, Peoria
Margaret Ann Francescon, St. Maria Goretti Parish, Coal Valley
Maurice F. Franz, St. Patrick’s Parish, Washington
Frank A. Gaydos, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Morton
Fred Julius, Sacred Heart Parish, Moline
Frank Kamerer, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Mahomet
William L. Liebhart, St. Mary’s Parish, Peru
Mary Lou Menches, St. Patrick’s Parish, Urbana
Elizabeth J. Minteer, St. John the Apostle Parish, Woodhull
Joan Elizabeth Norton, St. Teresa of Avila Parish, Earlville
Nancy L. Owens, Mary, Our Lady of Peace Parish, Orion
Michael J. Peterson, St. Mary’s Parish, Pontiac
William E. Purcell, St. Ann’s Parish, Peoria
Irma Lee Robbins, St. Monica’s Parish, East Peoria
Carolyn Schumacher, Sacred Heart Parish, Farmer City
Timothy Daniel Smith, Sacred Heart Parish, Rock Island
Deacon Richard Smith, Holy Family Parish, Peoria (posthumously)
Donald H. Stahl, St. Mary of the Woods Parish, Princeville
Josephine A. Thompson, St. Mary’s Parish, Westville
Norma L. Truax, St. Paul’s Parish, Danville

St. Isidore Rural Family Life Award

Rebecca and Darwin Builta, St. John’s Mission/Sacred Heart Parish, Farmer City
Marie L. Denzer Farley, St. Patrick’s Church of Merna, Bloomington
Michael DeSutter, St. John’s Parish, Woodhull
Paul and Viola Dunlap, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Mahomet
Michael Haag, St. John’s Parish, Cullom
Joseph and Lois Maloney, St. Augustine Parish, St. Augustine
Donald and Carol McLachlan, St. Teresa of Avila Parish, Earlville
John E. Megan, St. Joseph’s Parish, Brimfield
William E. Migliorini Family, Sacred Heart Parish, Granville

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