September 6, 2012
THE HIGHEST PAPAL HONOR A LAYPERSON CAN OBTAIN
Former Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools Named a Dame of Saint Gregory
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. announced today that Ms. Mary E. Rochford, former Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has been named to the pontifical Order of Saint Gregory the Great by Pope Benedict XVI.
This is one of the highest honors the Holy Father can bestow on an individual. This honor is in recognition not only for Ms. Rochford's service to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia but also continuing witness of lay leadership. In a letter to Ms. Rochford, Archbishop Chaput said, "Mary, you are a source of great pride for our Archdiocese. Thank you for your service to Jesus Christ and his Church. You honor us all."
The Order of St. Gregory the Great, one of the five pontifical knightly orders, was founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1831 to honor his great Sixth Century predecessor. In the nearly 200 years since, the Holy Father has awarded it to diplomats, artists, composers, scholars and scientists; political, military and economic leaders; philanthropists, interfaith leaders and other persons from all walks of life who have shown, by their sustained service, extraordinary love for Jesus Christ and his Church. Membership in the order incurs no obligations. It is strictly a recognition from the Holy Father himself for service already rendered and an invitation from His Holiness to continue a life of exemplary Christian witness.
Ms. Rochford tendered her resignation as Superintendent in March 2012 in order to devote time to providing physical care for members of her family unable to do so on their own. She had served in the Office of Catholic Education since 1999 and as Superintendent of Schools since 2008.
A product of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Ms. Rochford graduated from the former-Saint Athanasius Parish Elementary School and the former-Cardinal Dougherty High School. She then went on to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Chestnut Hill College and a Master of Arts Degree in Catholic School Leadership and Administration from Boston College. Prior to joining the Office of Catholic Education in August of 1999, she served as a Catholic school teacher and administrator for over 25 years.
For a photo gallery of today's announcement please visit www.catholicphilly.com/.