Parishioners Honored for Making a Difference; Three Priests Receive Papal Honors

December 06, 2003

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, will honor more than 250 Catholic parishioners for making a difference in their local parishes with the second annual Order of Merit awards, while three area priests will formally receive papal honors at a special prayer service:

Sunday, December 14, 2003
2:30 p.m.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Ave., NE, Washington, DC

Cardinal McCarrick established the Order of Merit in 2002 to recognize ordinary parishioners for their service to their parish and the Archdiocese of Washington.

Parishioners were nominated by their pastors, and represent Catholic parishes throughout the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland. Each will receive a medal from Cardinal McCarrick during the ceremony. The medal shows the Archdiocesan coat of arms on one side and an image of the Cathedral of St. Matthew, known as the “mother church” of the Archdiocese, and the words, “For Faithful Service” on the other side.

Parishioners were nominated for many reasons, such as working with youth or the homeless; volunteering their skills to assist with projects, repairs and finances; quietly helping fellow parishioners during tough times; assisting at liturgies or with special events and ministries. Representative of the diversity of the metro area, recipients include people from the U.S. as well as European, Hispanic, Caribbean and Asian countries. Some awardees have been active in their parishes nearly 60 years. The list of recipients is online at

Also during the ceremony, three priests will formally receive honors bestowed on them by Pope John Paul II. Reverend Michael J. Mellone, Secretary for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Washington, has been named a Prelate of Honor. Reverend R. Cary Hill, pastor of St. Stephen, Martyr in northwest Washington, DC, and Reverend Robert L. Keesler, former pastor of St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, have been named Chaplains to His Holiness. All honors come with the title “Monsignor.”

Susan Gibbs or Mark Adkinson
Office of Communications
[email protected]