The Ecumenism Blog

Home » Posts tagged 'Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester'

Tag Archives: Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester

A Tale of Two Dames

At the beginning of this year, a small group of Lay Centre residents and friends started asking the question, “During this anniversary year, how can we appropriately honor all the work that Donna and Riekie have put in over the last 25 years?”

And the answer presented itself: “We cannot… but the pope can!”

On Thursday, December 1, 2011, the co-founders of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas were invested with two of the pontifical orders of knighthood:

  • Prof. Donna Orsuto was created a
          Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great;
  • Ms. Riekie van Velzen was created a
           Dame of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester.

The investiture took place during a mass celebrated at the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo by Archbishop Joseph Tobin, CSsR, Secretary of the Pontifical Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in front of over 150 residents, guests, and friends of the Lay Centre.

Archbishop Tobin invests Dames Donna and Riekie with the regalia of their orders

Archbishop Tobin invests Dames Donna and Riekie with the insignia of their orders

The Eucharist was part of a week of events celebrating the Lay Centre’s 25th anniversary and a new alliance with the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago, IL, USA. The papal honors were a surprise to nearly everyone present, even the honorees.

“When Donna invited me to celebrate this liturgy tonight, she mentioned that St. Gregory the Great had grown up in the neighborhood and played on the property,” Archbishop Tobin said just before introducing the awards, “she had no idea that her relationship with St. Gregory was about to move to a new level!”

Truth be told, we were a little concerned that if Donna or Riekie found out beforehand, they would be too nervous or too humble to accept!

Nancy Lindsay, chair of the Board of Directors, introduced the nomination at the end of the homily. Archbishop Tobin read the papal briefs officially creating the Church’s two newest Dames, and blessed the insignia of the Orders before presenting them to Professor Orsuto and Ms. van Velzen. I had the great privilege to serve as Master of Ceremonies for the entire liturgy, including preparing the Rite of Investiture (based on resources borrowed from the Association of Papal Orders in Great Britain, who have an excellent website)

Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great

Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great

The orders carry no obligations, and primarily only ceremonial privileges: Both women are now entitled with the style “Dame” (the female equivalent of “Sir”), post-nominal lettering of the order (Donna Orsuto, DSG; Riekie van Velzen, DSS), a place in processions and seating in the sanctuary during liturgies and church events, etc. They even earn salutes from the Swiss Guard if they are wearing the insignia of the order. But the right attached to the orders that both seemed most interested in was that, as Equestrian Orders, the new Dames have the privilege of riding a horse into St. Peter’s Basilica! (Not that anyone has tried in recent decades…)

The Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great was founded in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI. It is conferred as a reward for services to the Holy See and the Church on gentlemen and ladies who “by reason of their nobility, the renown of their deeds, or the degree of their munificence are deemed worthy to be honored by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See.”

Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester

Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester

The Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester was founded a decade later, in 1841, also by Pope Gregory XVI. It is conferred as an honor for “the laity who are active in the apostolate, in particular in the exercise of their professional duties and masters of the different arts.”

On a personal note, I have to say thank you a thousand times (mille grazie!) to Bishop Brian Farrell of the PCPCU for helping us navigate the process of the nominations, and devoting a great deal of time to the effort on our behalf. It is not as if he has nothing else to do, as secretary of a Pontifical Council and on the team leading the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ! The demands of his office even meant he could not be there in person, to deliver the awards he had helped obtain, as he was in Constantinople representing Pope Benedict to Patriarch Bartholomew on the patronal feast day of the Holy See of Constantinople (St. Andrew’s Day, 30 November).

Likewise many thanks to Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald for his support and direction in the process, Archbishop Joseph Tobin for presenting the honors on behalf of the Holy Father, to Cardinal Koch for his sponsorship of the nomination, and to Cardinal Bertone for his approval of the same!

Rite of Investiture of Papal Knighthood

Celebration of the Eucharist
Thursday of the First Week of Advent
25th Anniversary of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas

Investiture of Papal Orders of Knighthood

At the conclusion of the homily

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, CSsR, and Master of Ceremonies A.J. Boyd stand at the chair

MC Boyd invites Nancy Lindsay, Chair of the Lay Centre Board of Directors, to the podium

Servers bring a table with the Papal Briefs and the insignia of the orders and place in front-center.


Presentation of the Nomination: Nancy Lindsay

Your Excellency,

For twenty-five years, the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas has contributed to the Church of Rome, and to the entire Catholic Church, through its commitment to community and ecclesial formation of students, to hospitality and dialogue, fidelity to the Church, and outreach to the broader community.

The co-founders of the Lay Centre, Professor Donna Orsuto and Signora Henrica van Velzen have lived in Rome for more than thirty years each, and have lead the growth of the Lay Centre from its modest beginnings within Foyer Unitas in 1986. Their service to the Church has had an impact beyond all expectations. As Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, SJ, Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, said during his visit to the Lay Centre in March, “this community has had a significant impact in Rome – on one hand, yes, it is a small community, but it is in fact a big thing!”

It is for their decades of dedicated service to the Church, both individually and in particular for the creation, development and growth of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas and its notable contribution to the life of the Church in Rome and the world – and with considerable gratitude to Bishop Brian Farrell, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, for their support and sponsorship of this nomination – that we propose Professoressa Donna Orsuto for recognition with the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and Signora Henrica van Velzen with the Order of Pope St. Sylvester.

 

Introduction of the Orders: Archbishop Tobin

The Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great was founded in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI. It is conferred as a reward for services to the Holy See and the Church on gentlemen and ladies who “by reason of their nobility, the renown of their deeds, or the degree of their munificence are deemed worthy to be honored by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See.”

The Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester was founded a decade later, in 1841, also by Pope Gregory XVI. It is conferred as an honor for “the laity who are active in the apostolate, in particular in the exercise of their professional duties and masters of the different arts.”

Becoming a Papal Dame does not merely mean receiving a title of honor – even though it is well deserved – but fighting evil, promoting good and defending the weak and oppressed against injustice.

Archbishop Tobin or MC Boyd invites the candidates to present themselves before the altar.

Archbishop Tobin, with mitre and crozier,
and MC Boyd, process to the front of the altar.

MC Boyd holds the order of investiture for Archbishop Tobin

 

Reading of the Papal Decree: Archbishop Tobin

Addressed to Donna and Riekie:

The Papal Brief which creates you, Donna Orsuto, a Dame of St. Gregory the Great reads as follows:

Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff, gladly acceding to a request made to Us from which we have gathered that you are most deserving for what you have done for the Holy Catholic Church and its affairs, and in order that We might give a clear sign of Our pleasure and appreciation, We choose, make and declare you, Donna Lynn Orsuto, of the diocese of Rome, a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. We bestow on you the right to use and enjoy all the privileges which go with this high dignity.

Given at St. Peter’s in Rome on 7 October 2011,
Signed and sealed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State.

Likewise, the Papal Brief which creates you, Henrica van Velzen, a Dame of Pope St. Sylvester, reads as follows:

Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff, gladly acceding to a request made to Us from which we have gathered that you are most deserving for what you have done for the Holy Catholic Church and its affairs, and in order that We might give a clear sign of Our pleasure and appreciation, We choose, make and declare you, Henrica Filomena Apollonia van Velzen, of the diocese of Rome, a Dame of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester. We bestow on you the right to use and enjoy all the privileges which go with this high dignity.

Given at St. Peter’s in Rome on 7 October 2011,
Signed and sealed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State.

 

Oath and Blessing of insignia: Archbishop Tobin

I have been delegated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to invest you with the insignia of the Orders to which he has appointed you.

Before performing this solemn task, I must ask you: Do you promise faithfully to maintain unswerving fidelity to God, the Supreme Pontiff, the Holy See and the Holy Church and exercise the office of a Pontifical Dame in accordance with the high ideals and standards expected of you?

Donna and Riekie: I do.

Archbishop Tobin blesses the Brief and Insignia saying:

Almighty and Eternal God,
bless these symbols approved by your Servant, Pope Benedict XVI.
We invoke your omnipotent power to confound all evil spirits
and protect your servants Donna Orsuto and Henrica van Velzen,
who, from this day forward, wear them.
Protect your Dames from all harm
and may they be ever faithful to you all the days of their life.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


Investiture of insignia

 

 Archbishop Tobin to Donna Orsuto:

In the name of the Holy Father I herewith invest you with the insignia of a Dame of St. Gregory the Great and I present to you the Papal Brief.

Archbishop Tobin to Riekie van Velzen:

In the name of the Holy Father I herewith invest you with the insignia of a Dame of Pope St. Sylvester and I present to you the Papal Brief.

MC Boyd or Archbishop Tobin presents the newly invested Dames to the Assembly, before all retire to their respective places.

%d bloggers like this: