Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., announced that Pope Benedict XVI has awarded papal honors to one priest and eight lay Catholic women and men in the Diocese of Trenton.

To celebrate the bestowal of the papal honors, Bishop O’Connell will preside at a special prayer service Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Ann Church, Lawrenceville.

Msgr. R. Vincent Gartland, Chaplain to His Holiness
The priest to be honored is Father R. Vincent Gartland, pastor of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville. Father Gartland was named a Chaplain to His Holiness and given the new title of “Reverend Monsignor.”

A Chaplain of Honor to His Holiness is a distinction given by the pope to certain Roman Catholic priests in recognition of their service to the Church. Candidates are nominated for the honor by their bishop for consideration by the Holy Father. Priests who hold the title of “monsignor” are part of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, which includes the Papal Chapel and the Papal Family. As members of the “papal family,” the monsignors are included in the Pontifical Yearbook, Annuario Pontificio, an official directory of the Holy See.

The origin of the honor dates back to the time of Pope Urban VIII. In addition to his being addressed as “Monsignor,” the position also carries with it certain privileges, such as in regard to ecclesiastical dress.

Msgr. Gartland was born July 6, 1939 in Camden. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala., and a master’s degree in theology from St. John University, New York. He also completed graduate studies in counseling and education at Seton Hall University, South Orange.

For 20 years, he was a member of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, serving in the ministry of secondary education. Then-Brother Vincent taught in St. Joseph High School, Metuchen, and St. Mary High School, South Amboy, and served as coordinator of adult religious education and the Catholic high school religion program in the diocesan Office of Religious Education. He also founded Inscape, a retreat for high school youth in Seaside Park.

Upon completing his studies in theology at St. Mary University and Seminary, Baltimore, Msgr. Gartland was ordained a priest by Bishop John C. Reiss May 23, 1981, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. Among his early parish assignments were St. James, Red Bank; St. Raphael, Hamilton, and St. Justin, Toms River.

In 1983, he was appointed to a three-year term on the diocesan Continuing Education Committee. He was later chosen to serve as a member of the Diocesan Liturgy Commission and the Engaged Encounter team.

Msgr. Gartland was named Catholic chaplain of Rider College, Lawrenceville, and of Mercer County Community College, West Windsor, in June, 1988. On April 21, 1995, he was appointed temporary administrator of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville, and was named pastor one month later. He has also served as a member of the Diocesan Building Commission and is a member of the Episcopal Council for Clergy Personnel.

Honors for lay women and men
Papal awards will be conferred on several members of the laity for meritorious service to the diocese and to the Bishop of Trenton.

Knighthood in the Order of St. Gregory the Great, W. James White
The conferral of membership into the Knighthood in the Order of St. Gregory the Great was granted to W. James White of Divine Mercy Parish, Trenton.

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great was established Sept. 1, 1831, by Pope Gregory XVI, seven months after his election. It is one of the five orders of knighthood of the Holy See. The order is bestowed on Catholic men and women (and in rare cases, non-Catholic men) in recognition of their personal service to the Holy See and the Church, unusual labors, support of the Holy See, and the good example set in their communities and country. Its motto is Pro Deo et Principe (For God and Prince).

White was born in Union City Oct. 16, 1936, and is the son of the late William and Florence White. He grew up in Jersey City and received a bachelor of civil engineering degree from the University of Detroit in 1959, and a master’s degree in business administration from Rider College, Lawrenceville, in 1971.

White is a licensed professional engineer in the State of New Jersey and has spent most of his career in state government. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University. He served in the U.S. Army Infantry in 1960, and from 1961 to 1967, in the Army Reserve, resigning with the rank of captain. In September, 1992, he took early retirement from his position as assistant commissioner of the Office of Management and Budget, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, to accept a teaching position at St. Raphael School, Hamilton, where he remained for 10 years.

White has been married to his wife, Jill, for 50 years, and they are the parents of six children and have 16 grandchildren. Among a variety of parish ministries, White has also served as president of the Holy Name Society at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Mercerville. With his wife, White has also served on the Renew 2000 Mission Team, and they continue to serve Divine Mercy Parish as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and as catechists in the religious education program. They have also served as parish representatives to the diocesan Office of Family Life/Respect Life and later to the diocesan Office of Life and Justice Ministries.

Since 1973, White has been active with the Knights of Columbus on local, state and national levels. He is a fourth degree member of the Bishop George W. Ahr Assembly and a past Grand Knight of the Hamilton Township Council. He has been active on various state council committees, including as state March for Life chairman, respect life chairman, membership chairman, district deputy, warden, advocate, treasurer, secretary and the deputy. In August, 2003, White was elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Supreme Council, Knights of Columbus, and was reappointed for another three-year term in 2006. He was also appointed Religious and Civil Rights Committee chairman of the New Jersey State Council, Knights of Columbus.

In addition to his parish and Knights of Columbus service, White has been involved in numerous community organizations including the board of the Mercer County Catholic Welfare Bureau, president of the Mercer County Right to Life Committee and a trustee of the New Jersey Citizens Concerned for Life Committee. He was also a representative of the Catholic Urban Schools Project and was a member of the New Jersey Alliance of Catholic School Families.

In reviewing White’s lengthy and impressive list of credentials, Bishop O’Connell, in nominating White for the award, stated that “I attest to Mr. White’s orthodoxy and his loyalty to the Holy See.”

“Mr. White is an extraordinary example of a Christian gentleman,” said Bishop O’Connell.

Benemerenti Recipients
Seven individuals will be presented with the Benemerenti Medal, which was instituted by Pope Gregory XVI and is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, their families and community. The word “benemerenti,” which means “to a well deserving person,” is on the back of the medal, surrounded by a crown of oak leaves; the ribbon is made of papal colors, yellow and white.

In 1925, the concept of awarding the medal as a mark of recognition to persons in service of the Church, both civil and military, lay and clergy alike, became acceptable.

The Benemerenti Medal recipients are: Francis E. Dolan; Laurence Downes; Harry Hill; Carolyn Leaver; Judith Persichilli, and Rose Anna and Angelo Romanello.

Francis E. Dolan served the diocese for 22 years as executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. He joined Catholic Charities in 1988 and during his tenure significantly expanded the services of the organization, which currently provide support and resources to more than 100,000 individuals throughout the four-county diocese each year.

Catholic Charities had realized substantial change, development and growth under Dolan’s direction. The agency increased from a $7 million organization with 110 employees to a more than $40 million organization with more than 600 employees. He was instrumental in positioning Catholic Charities to become more competitive through initiatives such as the development of an agency-wide Quality Improved Program that has been used as a model by the Council on Accreditations and a financial management strategy that was recently recognized by NJBIZ as part of its Non-Profit Innovation Awards program. In addition, during Dolan’s tenure, Catholic Charities was recognized as one of the premier human service agencies in New Jersey offering a broad continuum of behavioral health and social services to the community.

Dolan has an impressive list of professional accomplishments, honors and awards, including serving as the past chairman of the Social Issues Council of the New Jersey Catholic Conference and chairman of the Association of Catholic Charities Executive Directors, State of New Jersey.

Dolan was born March 12, 1946. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook, Pa., and a master’s degree in social work from Temple University, Philadelphia. He and his wife, Lena are residents of Philadelphia. They are the parents of three children and they have three grandchildren.

Laurence M. Downes - Since 1997, Laurence Downes has faithfully served the diocese as chairman of the Finance Council. During this time he has offered valuable assistance in the guidance of financial matters of the diocese particularly during current economic difficulties. Other positions he has held within the diocese include the chair of the board of trustees at Georgian Court University, Lakewood.

Downes was born Sept. 27, 1957, in Hackensack. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in June 1979 from Iona College and a master’s degree in business administration in June 1981.  Also, he completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in 2009.

Downes is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of New Jersey Resources and its principal subsidiary, New Jersey Natural Gas. He joined NJR in March 1985, and was appointed senior vice president and chief financial officer in January 1990. In March 1995, he was elected president and chief executive officer of NJNG and a member of NJR’s board of directors. In July 1995, he was named president and CEO of NJR. In September 1996, he was named chairman of NJR’s board of directors.

Downes is a director and past chairman of the American Gas Association and the Natural Gas Council, and a Trustee of the American Gas Foundation and Choose New Jersey. He is a member of the Board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and also a Trustee of St. David the King Parish in West Windsor.

Downes resides in Princeton Junction with his wife, Carol, and their two children.

Harry R. Hill, Jr. was born April 30, 1930 in Trenton. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a LLB degree from Wake Forest University. He is a law partner with Backes & Hill, Lawrenceville. Backes & Hill, and its predecessor organization of Backes & Backes, has provided legal services for the diocese and its churches, schools and other entities for more than 100 years. As general council for the diocese, Hill has handled complex civil litigation, not-for-profit religious corporation legal services involving contracts, leases, documents, employment issues and other corporate matters.

Hill has served on numerous boards for the diocese and diocesan agencies. He is a member of the Diocesan Finance Counsel; served as a member and chairman of the board of trustees and finance committee of St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton, and served on the stewardship committee for Catholic Health East, the parent corporation of St. Francis Medical Center. Hill is a member of Hope Ministries, Public juridic person of Sponsors Council of Catholic Health East. He is also a member of the New Jersey State Bar, a recipient of the State Bar Association’s Professionalism Award); the American Bar Association; member and past president of the Mercer County Bar Association; master of the Mercer County American Inn of Court; and is a past board member and counsel of the Greater Mercer County United Way and its predecessor, Delaware Valley United Way.

Hill lives in Lawrenceville and is a member of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville. In 1966, he and his wife, Sara, were married by the then Msgr. John C. Reiss, pastor of St. Francis of Assisium Parish, Trenton. He has had the privilege and honor of serving four bishops of the Diocese of Trenton.

Carolyn Leaver was born in Trenton, and is currently a member of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton. Leaver is the longest serving employee in the Diocesan Pastoral Center with 38 years of service. Almost all of these years were spent in working as a secretary in the Office of the Diaconate which came about as a result of the restoration of the permanent diaconate following the Second Vatican Council. Leaver is acknowledged for her invaluable dedication to the diocese and how she has given generously of her time, assistance and talent outside of normal business hours to assure that the permanent diaconate community in the diocese is well served and represented. As of July 1, 2011, Leaver had a shift in duties when she became the administrative assistant in the new Office of Clergy, which was created by Bishop O’Connell.

At St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Leaver participates in weekly Eucharistic Adoration.

Judith M. Persichilli was born March 4, 1949, in New Brunswick. She resides in Pennington with her husband, Anthony, and they are currently members of St. James Parish, Pennington.

Persichilli is president and chief executive officer for Catholic Health East. She joined CHE in 2003 as the executive vice president of the Mid-Atlantic Division. She was promoted to executive vice president of acute care for the system in 2008 and then to executive vice president and chief operating officer in December, 2009 before assuming the role of CEO. Prior to joining CHE’s System Office, she served for eight years as CEO of St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton.

Persichilli received her nursing diploma from the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in 1968, a bachelor of science in nursing, summa cum laude, from Rutgers University in 1976, and a master of arts in administration, summa cum laude, from Rider College, Lawrenceville, in 1980. She also received an honorary doctor of health degree from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, in 2009. This past May, she was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Conn.

Persichilli is a member of various community agencies and is a member of several community boards, including the Health Care Administration Board of the State of New Jersey where she was appointed by the governor.

In 2006, Persichilli received the greatest tribute bestowed on a nurse in New Jersey when she was inducted into the New Jersey State Nurses Association Hall of Honor. In September, 2008, she received the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s highest honor, the Richard J. Hughes Humanitarian Award. In March, 2011, she was named as one of the 50 most powerful people in New Jersey health care by NJBiz. And in May, 2011, she received the Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Award for Outstanding Medical Executive.

On a diocesan level, Persichilli and her husband have been longtime supporters of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, and involved in many fundraising efforts. Persichilli has also served on the Diocesan Review Board.

Rose Anna and Angelo Romanello have been married more than 55 years and are the parents of two daughters.

The Romanellos, who are members of Incarnation-St. James Parish, Ewing, have served the diocese for more than 37 years in supervising the Holy Innocents Society, a diocesan program to provide catechetical instruction for special needs children and young adults. Angelo Romanello has been president of the Federation of Holy Innocents Societies and director of the Holy Cross Learning Center for 31 years. As diocesan president, he also oversees the centers located in the diocese in Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish-St. Joseph Church, Beverly; Divine Mercy Parish-Holy Cross Church, Trenton; St. Mark Parish, Sea Girt; St. Mary Parish, New Monmouth; St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant, and St. Justin Parish, Toms River, as well as the staff which numbers about 200 including coordinators, catechists and aides who work on a volunteer basis to help prepare students for the reception of the sacraments; teach them how to become altar servers and involved in other liturgical ministries; lead recreational and social activities, and facilitate information support groups for the parents. The centers also provide adult continuing education classes for those students who have completed their sacraments.

Rose Anna Romanello has served the Holy Innocents Society alongside her husband and she is currently the coordinator of the Holy Cross Learning Center.

As parishioners of the former St. James Parish, Trenton, and now as members of Incarnation-St. James Parish, Ewing, the Romanellos together and individually have served in a number of ministries including the pastoral council, the Pre-Cana committee, as coordinators of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to the homebound and parish trustees. Angelo Romanello is also a member of the Bishop Griffin Assembly Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus.

Both Romanellos have been the recipients of numerous awards. Both have garnered the Department of NJ Catholic War Veterans For Home Award and the Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award. As a couple, they were honored in 2007 with the Diocese of Trenton Nostrum Ecclesiam Tempus (Now is Our Time to Be Church) Award by Bishop John M. Smith and in 2009, with the NJ Coalition for Inclusion Ministries in collaboration with Open R.O.A.D. Lay Leadership Award.

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