The pastors of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Land O’ Lakes and Saint Peter the Apostle in Trinity have received honors bestowed by Pope Francis.
The Rev. Ron Aubin and the Rev. Dennis Hughes now have an additional title, besides pastor and father — they now also bear the title of monsignor, a designation that is bestowed on those who have been named a Chaplain of His Holiness.
The Most Rev. Robert Lynch, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, nominated the men for the honor, which was officially conferred during a special ceremony on April 17 at the diocese’s Bethany Center in Lutz.
The evening also included the award of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal to 14 recipients. One person also received the Benemerenti Medal.
To be nominated to be designated as a monsignor, one must be at least 65 years old, Aubin said.
It’s typically a recognition for efforts made over a lifetime of ministry, said Aubin, who said he grew up in Catholic family, attending Catholic schools and felt called early on to be a priest.
He was surprised when he got the call from the bishop, informing him he was being nominated for the honor.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” Aubin said, adding that he thinks the older parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary were more excited than he was by the honor.
While he is grateful to Bishop Lynch and Pope Francis for the designation, he said, “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better title than Father.”
Aubin also noted: “when the kids started calling me Papa Ron, that was the best honorific.”
“I’m just a pastor. That’s all I am. It’s all I wanted to be,” Aubin said.
The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal, considered the highest honor which the church awards to its lay and religious members, is granted by the Pope following the nomination of a bishop, who provides a case statement regarding the nominee’s worthiness for the designation.
Including those designated during the ceremony, only 62 men and women in the diocese of St. Petersburg have received this distinction in the past 20 years.
Local recipients of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal were: Gerald Phillip Giglia, of St. Timothy Church in Lutz and, Arthur Francis Kirk, former president of Saint Leo University, of St. Leo Abbey/St. Rita Catholic Church, Dade City.
Published on May 4, 2016