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Spirit of service

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They’re the unsung heroes of the Church, until this fall, when their praises will be sung at Holy Rosary Cathedral as they receive papal honours from Pope Benedict XVI.
 
Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, has nominated 21 men and women of the Archdiocese of Vancouver to receive the awards from Pope Benedict XVI: the Benemerenti Medal and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross.
 
They range from priests and educators to religious and business people; all have one thing in common: service to the Church.
 
At right are the recipients of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope) Cross, given for distinguished service to the Church by lay people and clergy. Established by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, it is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Pope.
 
The Benemerenti (To a well deserving person) Medal, instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832, is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, their families and community. Click here for the Benemerenti Medal recipients.
 
All the awards will be presented Oct. 3 at Holy Rosary Cathedral.
 
 
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross recipients:
 
 
Father Francis Xavier Chang
 
Father Chang served St. Theresa’s parish as its pastor for 37 years. He has been a priest for 55 years, coming to Vancouver from China via Montreal. He is well-known for his tireless service and dedicated ministry visiting the sick in hospitals, other institutions, and private homes. Even in retirement he continues to minister to the sick. The honour recognizes and affirms the other retired priests of the archdiocese during this year in which the Year for Priests has ended.
 
 
Mr. John Nixon
 
John Nixon began more than a quarter century of service to both the local and universal Church by assisting with the visit of Pope John Paul II to Vancouver in 1984, providing professional expertise with media relations. Since then he has regularly assisted the archbishop in critical communications with the media. Perhaps his greatest contribution was his service as chairman of the board of Vancouver College during protracted litigation that threatened the school’s existence. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for The B.C. Catholic and on the board of Corpus Christi College.
 
 
Mrs. Elaine Moonen
 
A social worker by training, Elaine Moonen worked in the archdiocesan social services agency for many years. After her retirement she generously assisted the archbishop in implementing personnel policies aimed at improving the management of curia offices. She has served on many archdiocesan boards, most recently that of the Providence Health Care Society, the Catholic hospital consortium in the archdiocese. She is a longtime member of the Catholic Women’s League in the archdiocese and a founding member of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Society, an organization under the auspices of the Catholic Women’s League that provides services to victims of domestic abuse. Members and volunteers will collectively be honoured by this recognition.
 
 
Mr. Vernon Robertson
 
Vernon Robertson has been an integral part of the archdiocese’s evangelization formation and outreach. He is the current head of the Archdiocesan Service Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, was a key member of the Evangelization Committee for the Archdiocesan Synod, and is a member of the Archdiocesan Evangelization Advisory Board. He founded a successful course to train lay leaders in evangelization methods and assisted the archbishop in identifying and promoting the Alpha course as an effective evangelization program for parishes. His bold leadership in the new evangelization has been marked by personal humility and great dedication, even in ill health.
 
 
Sister Elizabeth Kelliher, SA
 
Professed in 1941, Sister Kelliher has worked for almost six decades as an advocate for youth and the marginalized. She arrived in Vancouver in 1998 to evaluate the Franciscan Sisters’ services and has been here ever since. She continues to serve those in need alongside her sisters and lay volunteers through the Franciscan mission on Cordova Street, which has just celebrated 80 years in the archdiocese. The award honours her order, sisters, and lay co-workers collectively.
 
 
Mr. William P.G. McCarthy
 
Bill McCarthy is a local businessman who has placed his talents wholeheartedly at the disposition of the archdiocese, serving since 2002 as a member of the Archdiocesan Finance Council. Going beyond the role of adviser, he has given countless hours of his time providing practical help to numerous projects. Most recently he chaired the committee overseeing the building of a new high school. He is the Lieutenant of the Western Canadian Lieutenancy of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
 

Archbishop Miller said Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross receipients “have distinguished themselves in generously giving of their time and talents not only in their parish but also on the diocesan level and even beyond the diocese.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 15:05  

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