For Immediate Release:
Contacts: Fr. James Shanley, David Elliott
Secretariat for Communications and Public Relations
Archdiocese of Hartford
134 Farmington Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105

The Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, is pleased to announce that 14 members of the Archdiocese have received Papal Honors from His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the 175th Anniversary Year of the Archdiocese.

The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross has been bestowed on ten individuals. Four others have been named to the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal knighthood with the title of Knight conferred on three men, and the title of Dame conferred on one woman. The same Pope who established the Diocese of Hartford in 1843 also created the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1831 in honor of his sainted predecessor of the 7th century.

Archbishop Blair said that, “in bestowing these Papal Honors, the Holy Father recognizes the strong Catholic faith and the daily witness to Christ and the gospel on the part of so many of the Faithful of this local church, as represented by our awardees, for which we are grateful to God.”

The honors will be bestowed at a Liturgy of Evening Prayer on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. in Saint Thomas Chapel at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, 467 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, CT 06002.

Photos of the medals for the Press are available here:



Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross:  created by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 to be given to women and men for their distinguished support of, and service to, the universal Church and the Holy See.

Francis Ahern

Frank has been a funeral director and philanthropist for his entire life.  A parishioner and ardent supporter of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, he is involved in countless church and civic activities.  He and his dedicated staff recently facilitated the transfer of the body of Jean Louis Cardinal Tauran, after his death in CT back to the Vatican.  That most recent effort engaging the Archdiocese, religious orders, the Italian Consulate, the Nuncio and the Holy See only served to ratify what seemed already to be a well-deserved honor.  He regularly attends Mass and all Archdiocesan events at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph and financially supports its music program.

Bernadette Foley

Bernadette has been a valued employee of the Archdiocese for 35+ years, most significantly as Executive Assistant to Archbishops Daniel A. Cronin (2001-2003), Archbishop Henry J. Mansell (2003-2013) and most recently to Archbishop Leonard P. Blair (2013- present).  Prior to this position she was secretary to the Metropolitan Tribunal and was engaged in the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. She is involved with countless tasks of coordination, personal correspondence, keeping of the Archbishop’s calendar and assisting all members of the Archbishop’s Cabinet and the entire staff of the Chancery. She is admired for her confidentiality, loyalty and discretion in delicate matters. With her family she resides in Wethersfield.

Myles Hubbard

Myles was Director of the Office for Black Catholics of the Archdiocese of Hartford from 1999 until his retirement in 2005.  He is active in his parish, St. Justin-St. Michael in Hartford, attends each meeting of the Black Catholic Congress of the United States and is a valued member of Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Myles is often sought out for his wisdom and advice by the Archbishop and other clergy and religious in finding a way forward with all the various groups of “Black Catholics” in the Archdiocese of Hartford and dealing with ongoing issues in regards to racism in the Church and our society.  Myles is a member of the National Advisory Board, Catholic Campaign for Human Development; Board member of St. Agnes Home, House of Bread, Mercy Housing and Shelter; Eucharistic Minister; former President of the Serra Club, a Knight of Columbus, former District Deputy, and former member Hartford Board of Education. He and his wife are members of St. Justin-St. Michael parish in Hartford.

Arturo Iriarte

Arturo has been an employee of the Archdiocese in the area of social justice ministry with a particular outreach to immigrants of Hispanic descent.  He worked with the Office for Urban Affairs for 15+ years, then in the Hispanic office and eventually went back to the Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry from 2010 until the present where he serves as Hispanic Parish Social Ministry Coordinator.  He at present is a key leader in V Encuentro for the Archdiocese of Hartford and has presented his work on multiple occasion to Catholic Relief Services and the USCCB (United States Catholic Conference of Bishops). He is active in grass roots efforts in current immigration struggles as well as educating Catholics and the wider community on this issue.  He lives with his family in East Haven.

Sister Dolores Lahr, CSJ

Sister Dolores Lahr has faithfully served the Church and people of CT as a parochial school teacher, as Provincial of her religious order, the Sisters of Saint Joseph (CSJ), and as Associate Director for Ministry at the Leadership Conference for Women Religious in Silver Spring, MD. Sister is presently Executive Director of Mission Integration at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Waterbury, a member of Trinity Health of New England. She was for many years the Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Coordinator and a past member of the Review Board for the Archdiocese.  In this sensitive and challenging role she was held in high esteem by all involved.  She sought compassion and justice for all in these recent years.

Sister Mary Clare Millea, ASCJ

Sister Clare Millea is currently the Director of the Office of Faith and Culture of the Archdiocese of Hartford.  From 2009 -2012 she was the Apostolic Visitator for the Women’s Religious Institutes in the United States.  She was Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, headquartered in Rome from 2004-2016.  Prior to this ministry, she was local and Provincial Superior, a member of the General Council of the ASCJ, school principal and director and holds both a J.C.L. and a J.C.D. degree from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, Italy. Sr. Clare also holds the title of assistant chancellor of the Archdiocese, and she resides at St. Maurice Convent in New Britain.

Ilse Nigro

Ilse is woman of deep and abiding faith, attends daily Mass, assists in setting up for Mass, teaches religious education, and is involved in programs of faith formation and scripture study for herself so that she might share her faith with others.  She is a philanthropist sharing her financial resources with the schools, religious education programs and offices of the Archdiocese of Hartford along with those ministries that support young adults, including Frassati.  She is a Director of the recently established Hartford Bishops Foundation.  She has a particular devotion to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and is supportive of many outreach efforts of the Archdiocese in addition to her parish, which is St. Peter Claver in West Hartford.

Deacon Martin O’Connor

Deacon Martin O’Connor is a pillar of the City of New Haven (part of the Archdiocese of Hartford).  He was the Fire Chief for the City of New Haven and is now a professor at the University of New Haven, as well as, their Catholic Chaplain in Campus Ministry. He has served as Deacon at both St. Mary and St. Bernadette parishes and is a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.  He received a Masters of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fordham. Deacon O’Connor is sought out by many for advice, liturgical participation, spiritual direction and is held in high regard by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The members of the Permanent Diaconate of the Archdiocese hold him in high esteem.

Catherine Smith

Catherine is highly respected in greater Waterbury and throughout the Archdiocese for her firm commitment to the Catholic faith and her untiring efforts as a leader in philanthropic efforts that have significantly improved the quality of life and facilitated educational excellence (Brass City Charter School on the former campus of St. Margaret), medical expansion (St. Mary’s Hospital) the development of youth (Police Athletic League, PAL) and economic regional growth.  A member of many boards, a former Catholic school teacher, a parishioner of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Cathy currently is a major supporter in multiple ways of the Hartford Bishops Foundation, along with her husband, Jim, who is its Chair. Together they have two children and reside in Middlebury.

Marcia Wetherbee

Marcia is the receptionist and telephone operator for the Archdiocese of Hartford Chancery offices, and provides support for the Office of the Archbishop.  She welcomes all persons and inquiries, seeks answers when necessary, deals with emergencies and facilitates countless requests each day. She was the singular employee mentioned positively in each and every phase of a recent evaluation, study and reorganization of the Central Service Offices of the AOH.  Her energy and dedication make it possible for the efforts of many clergy and laity to flourish. She exemplifies service and hospitality in the Archdiocese as the “gatekeeper” of the Chancery and Central Service Offices.  Marcia resides in Avon.



Knight/Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great: given in recognition of service to the Holy See and to the Roman Catholic Church, through unusual labors, support of the Holy See, and the excellent example set forth in both communities and countries.

Robert O’Hara

Bob has contributed much to the Church in Hartford and the greater community. He is the former President of the Archdiocesan School Board, and former chair of the Northwest Catholic High School Board, a member of St. Catherine Siena Parish in West Simsbury (Parish Council, Capital Campaign Co-Chair), a Knight of Malta, chair of the Malta House of Care Foundation, a Director of the Hartford Bishops Foundation, member of the Holy Apostles College and Seminary Board, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist visiting the sick and hospitalized, charter member and first President of Hartford Legatus, a Lourdes volunteer, a prison ministry volunteer, a board member of the St. Justin Church Food Pantry, . He recently led the strategic planning process for the Connecticut Catholic Conference and the redesign of the Holy Apostles Board.  Bob is currently a Member of Epstein Becker Green PC in Manhattan. His prior employment includes Associate General Counsel and Vice President of the United Technologies Corporation, trial lawyer at Day Berry and Howard LLP, intelligence analyst at the National Security Agency, the White House, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. He was also formerly Chair of the Equal Employment Advisory Council in Washington.

Pauline Olsen, MD

As a physician and a Dame of Malta, Dr. Olsen and her colleagues provide free medical care for about 2,200 members of the working poor.  She is a founding member of the Malta House of Care, serves on Malta’s boards, recruits Board members and volunteers to staff the van, founded and assists in the funding of the Malta Food Pantry so that the ill clients will also be provided nutritious food.  She participates in annual day of prayer and anointing for the Hispanic and Latino members of the Archdiocese of Hartford who are suffering illness.  This service is held in the presence of the Archbishop and takes place at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph.  She is a parishioner of St. Patrick Parish in Farmington.

Jean-Pierre van Rooy

J.P., born in Belgium and having studied for 8 years at the Catholic University of Louvain is the founder of the Order of Malta Hartford Region, co-founder of the Malta House of Care (mobile clinic for the uninsured of Greater Hartford) and while CEO of Otis Elevator was involved in Special Olympics and a board members of Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and the Crudem clinic in Haiti.  He participated in 11 pilgrimages to Lourdes with the “maladies,” founded a Hispanic ministry of “Peregrinacion Para los Infermos (a pilgrimage for the ill in the Hispanic community) and served on the boards of Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Miss Porters School and the University of Hartford.  The Malta House of Care and the Archdiocese of Hartford are chief among his philanthropic endeavors.  With his wife Marie-Clair, they reside in Bloomfield.


John Sitarz

Attorney John Sitarz has represented the Archdiocese of Hartford for many years as General Counsel faithfully and prudently under the leadership of Archbishops Whealon, Cronin, Mansell and Blair and advised a number of other religious and non-profit corporations on a variety of issues including constitutional and sensitive matters.  These sensitive matters in recent years have included multiple cases regarding sexual abuse allegations against the clergy in the Archdiocese of Hartford. He is fair and just, confidential and faithful in all of his dealings with priests and those who bring legal suits on behalf of others.  His own devotion to the Church has not wavered in spite of the difficulty in doing this kind of work. Jack is a partner at Cooney, Scully and Dowling in Hartford and a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Hartford.