A group of South Carolinians have received papal honors from Pope Francis, according to a letter written by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone in late December.
The eight men and women, including three priests, one deacon and one religious sister, went through a lengthy consideration process after being nominated by Bishop Guglielmone.
The honors were formally bestowed at a vespers service on Jan. 15 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston.
“It is a recognition by the Holy Father of the good works these individuals have done both in directly building up the Church and for society at large,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “These are people who have put their faith into action, who have helped the diocese to grow and have shared the goodness of the Gospel.”
Order of St. Gregory
Two people were inducted into the Order of St. Gregory, an honor given to Catholic men and women for their service and the examples they set in their communities.
Joseph P. Riley Jr., former mayor of the City of Charleston, has been named a Knight of St. Gregory. A native of Charleston, he served as mayor of his home town from December 1975 to January 2016. He was the longest serving public executive in city history and the second mayor of Irish Catholic heritage. Riley is a member of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Jean Hoefer Toal, retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, will become a Dame of St. Gregory. A Columbia native, she was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 1988 and became chief justice in 2000, retiring in 2015. She was the first woman and the first Catholic to hold the office. Toal is a member of St. Joseph Church in Columbia.
Chaplain of His Holiness
Father James LeBlanc received the honor of Chaplain of His Holiness, which comes with the title of reverend monsignor. Father LeBlanc is currently pastor of St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach and the diocesan vicar for family life. He was ordained in 1966.
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross
Two priests, a deacon and one religious sister received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, given for distinguished service to the Church.
Adorno Father Nicholas Capetola is the retired pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek. He is a native of Italy who was ordained in 1962 and started his ministry in the Diocese of Charleston in 1989. Along with his work in the Lowcountry, Father Capetola has also helped establish a seminary in the Philippines and written several books.
Adorno Father Frank Palmieri, current pastor of St. Anne and St. Jude Church in Sumter, was born in Italy and came to the United States in and St. Jude Church in Sumter, was born in Italy and came to the United States in in South Carolina for more than 20 years, and previously served as pastor at Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg. Father Palmieri has also served as first superior of the Adorno Fathers’ House in Goose Creek and worked to recruit vocations for the Adorno Fathers.
Deacon André Guillet, director of the diaconate program for the Diocese of Charleston, was ordained in 1985 in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y. He moved to South Carolina in 2007, where he worked as general manager at Mc-Crady’s Restaurant in Charleston. He now guides men interested in becoming permanent deacons in the diocese through the training process and also works with those who have already been ordained. Deacon Guillet serves at Divine Redeemer Church in Hanahan.
Sister Pamela Smith, a member of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, currently serves as diocesan secretary for education and faith formation. She began working for the diocese in 2008 and has more than 40 years experience in teaching and administration. Sister Pam also has written several books, more than 100 articles and poems, and has been published in literary, theological and spiritual journals.
Kathy Schmugge, diocesan director of the Office of Family Life, received the Benemerenti medal, also given for outstanding service to the Church. She is a native of Maryland who served in the U.S. Navy, where she was a nuclear power instructor and legal officer. She started in the Family Life Office for the diocese in 2004 and in 2011 received a master’s degree in theological studies from Ave Maria University. She is also a member of the diocesan Academy of Life and a member of St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill.