The Archdiocese of Los Angeles bestowed special honors from  Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis upon 54 laypersons and 15 priests under its jurisdiction in a ceremony held Sunday afternoon at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown LA. Included among the recipients were 11 laypersons and one priest from the San Gabriel Valley who received medals and diplomas associated with the honors.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez presided over the ceremony, conferring the honor of Chaplain of His Holiness, with the personal title of Reverend Monsignor, to Msgr. Austin Doran, pastor of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in San Gabriel. The honorific title is bestowed upon veteran priests who are considered to have rendered particularly valuable service to the Catholic Church.

Seven laypersons from San Gabriel Valley parishes received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award, which translates as For the Church and the Holy Father and recognizes the commitment of men and women and their service to the ecclesial community. Ecclesial communities are nonparish Christian communities affiliated with the Catholic Church.

The local Pro Ecclesia Award recipients are Antonio Monteslone of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pasadena, and Dorothy Shea, John Shea and William M. Wardlaw of the San Gabriel Pastoral Region.

The local recipients of the Benemerenti Award, which translates as Good Merit and is given to those who have shown exemplary service to their church, family and community, are: Elizabeth Diott, Joan Feser and Frances Inafuku of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Pasadena, Bruce Walter Beaumont and Christopher Gerald Hagerty of St. Louise de Marillac Church in Covina, Karl John David Holtsnider of Holy Family Church in South Pasadena and John A. Hammerbacher of St. Anthony Parish in San Gabriel. 

“We are awarding some of the highest honors that are given in the Catholic Church, honors that are ancient and are bestowed through the ministry of the Pope himself,” said Gomez. “So, this is a rare and wonderful occasion. These men and women are a blessing to me in my ministry as Archbishop and I am delighted that the Pope is recognizing them for their love of God and their service to the Church.”