Bishop presents papal honors to deacons


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Pope Francis has bestowed special honors on several deacons in the Jefferson City diocese, for having “rendered special service to the Christian Faith.”

Bishop W. Shawn Mc­Knight recently presented Benemerenti Medals from the pope to Deacon John Hill, Deacon Dana Joyce, Deacon Turf Martin, Deacon David Miller and Deacon John Weaver during the June 7-9 gathering of the deacons of the diocese in Jefferson City.

The previous weekend, Monsignor Marion Makarewicz, dean of the North Deanery, presented on the bishop’s behalf a Benemerenti Medal to Deacon Kenneth Berry at Mass in St. Joseph Church in Edina.

“It’s always a pleasure to gather with our deacons,” said Bishop McKnight. “They and their spouses are wonderful examples of service in joy and humility throughout our diocese.”

The bishop presented a Benemerenti Medal to Deacon Michael Brooks while celebrating Mass in the St. Boniface Chapel in Koeltztown June 3.

The papal honor, instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832, is conferred to people “who have shown an active fidelity to and love for the Church,” for distinguished service to Catholic principles, the Church and society.

“Benemerenti” is Latin for “good merit.”

“His Holiness, Pope Francis, has seen fit to bestow a special papal award upon several deacons of our diocese, which brings honor to all our deacons and, indeed, to our diocese as a whole,” said Bishop McKnight.

  • Ordained in 1995, Deacon Berry is retired from assisting the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Edina. He previously ministered in Baring, Ewing and Memphis. He has served as a liaison for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, as well as involvement with Cursillo and Residents Encounter Christ, spiritual director in the St. Vincent de Paul Society, parish and school leadership, on the confirmation team, a sponsor for those with chemical dependency, and many other routine ministries of a deacon.
  • Ordained in 1985, Deacon Brooks assists the pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Rolla, working with ministry training of the laity, marriage preparation and annulments, and sacramental preparation. He has also served in various ministry roles for parishes in Cuba, Vienna, Argyle (and the Koeltztown chapel) and Brinktown, including roles of Parish Life Collaborator. He has served the University of Missouri-Rolla Newman Center and in roles of adult education and previously as principal for St. Patrick School in Rolla.
  • Ordained in 2013, Deacon Hill has provided exceptional diaconal service at the Moberly Correctional Center, fostering a collaborative team ministry approach; he also teaches religion classes in the school, and is actively involved with the Hispanic liturgies at his parish of St. Pius X in Moberly.
  • Ordained in 1999, Deacon Joyce, has served as the diocesan Communications Director, as interim President of Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbia, and currently as the Personal Secretary of Bishop Emeritus John R. Gaydos, in addition to his ministerial duties here at the cathedral parish.
  • Ordained in 2013, Deacon Martin is on the national board for Catholic Divorce Ministry and spearheads that ministry for our diocese. He serves as Chairman of the Board for CASA, a shelter for abused women and children, in the St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Pettis County.
  • Ordained in 1996, Deacon Miller, although officially retired from active diaconal ministry, still assists with prison ministry and substitutes for the pastor when a clerical presence is required.
  • Ordained in 2002, Deacon Weaver serves in Hispanic Ministry, hospice care, nursing home ministry, homebound ministry, and serves as a Parish Life Collaborator of the St. Mary Parish in Milan and the Mission of St. Mary in Unionville.

The medal is worn over the chest, suspended by ribbons of the papal colors. It is a gold Greek cross depicting the image of Christ, his hand raised in blessing.

On the left of the transverse arm of the cross is a depiction of the tiara and crossed keys — symbols of the papacy.

This award is bestowed upon “those well deserving in Christian matters.”