Pope Benedict XVI Bestows Papal Honors on thirteen leaders

Friday, December 21, 2012 - Syracuse

Syracuse, New York --- Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham announced today that Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has bestowed papal honors on thirteen leaders in the Diocese of Syracuse.  The papal honors will be officially presented at a Vesper Service on February 3, 2013 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 2:00 pm.

Five of the honorees are clergy who will be elevated to the ranks of Monsignor.  The title Monsignor is an honorary ecclesiastical title ordinarily bestowed by the pope on diocesan clerics in recognition of service rendered to the Church.  Monsignors are designated as members of the three ranks: Prothonotaries Apostolic, Honorary Prelates or Chaplains of His Holiness.

The clergy honorees are:

Reverend Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel has been elevated to Honorary Prelate.  Msgr. Yeazel serves as the Vicar General of the diocese and pastor of Holy Cross Church in Dewitt.  Through his years of priestly ministry, he has served five bishops of Syracuse as Chancellor, Vicar for Priests, and Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville.  He was named Monsignor in 2006.

Reverend Msgr. Timothy S. Elmer has been named Chaplain of His Holiness.  Msgr. Elmer is the Chancellor and Judicial Vicar of the diocese.  He is a member of the Presbyteral Council and the diocesan College of Consultors.  During his thirty-nine years of priestly ministry, in addition to his work in the Tribunal, he has served as pastor of St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale and St. Patrick’s Church in Chittenango and as parochial vicar at St. Ann’s Church in Syracuse and Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse.

Reverend Msgr. James P. Lang has been named Chaplain of His Holiness.  He is the Episcopal Vicar for Parishes.  Msgr. Lang has served on various committees during his priesthood including the Priests’ Personnel Committee, as Chair of the Priests’ Senate, the Diocesan Administrative Committee, the College of Consultors and the Diocesan Pastoral Council.  He has also served as a parochial vicar, a Newman Club Chaplain and Campus Minister at both the State University of New York at Oswego and at Syracuse University.

Reverend Msgr. James T. O’Brien has been named Chaplain of His Holiness.  Msgr. O’Brien currently serves as pastor of Pope John XXIII Parish in Liverpool.  He has devoted over forty years of service as a priest of the diocese in pastoral ministry.  He served as a member of the faculty at Bishop Ludden High School and as superintendent of the diocesan Catholic schools.  He was the rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse.  He serves on the Priests’ Personnel Committee, is Chairman of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and is the Vicar of the Western Region of the diocese.

Reverend Msgr. John P. Putano has been named Chaplain of His Holiness.  Msgr. Putano is the Episcopal Vicar of the Southern Region of the diocese.  Additionally, he is the pastor of the canonically linked parishes of St. Patrick and St. Thomas Aquinas in Binghamton.  He has ministered as a priest of the diocese for over forty years serving as a parochial vicar to St. John the Evangelist in Binghamton, St. Anthony of Padua in Utica, Our Lady of the Angels in Endwell, St. Mary of the Assumption in Binghamton, St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale, and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. His first pastorate was St. Anthony of Padua in Endicott, and he also served as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Vestal.    Msgr. Putano is a member of the Diocesan College of Consultors and the Presbyteral Council.


Eight individuals will receive the Pontifical Cross:  Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Latin:  For the Church and the Pope).  This medal is given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy.  It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Papacy.

The Honorees are:

Sister Patricia Burkard, OSF has recently completed her term as Major Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Neumann Communities.  She had previously served as Major Superior of the Third Order Franciscan Sisters of Williamsville.  With her leadership, four communities of the Franciscan Sisters have merged and formed one community.

Sister Marie Wilson, CSJ is celebrating her 70th anniversary as a member of her community.  She has served as both teacher and administrator in our Catholic Schools.  For over the past 40 years she has worked in a variety of capacities at St. Paul’s Parish in Rome, New York, serving as a Pastoral Associate, Parish Visitor to the Sick, Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister and as a volunteer wherever needed.

Kathleen (Tina) Dyer is the Executive Secretary to the Diocesan Pastoral Council, a volunteer position she has held for 20 years.  She is a retired speech teacher in the public school system and has dedicated her retirement years to special service in the Church.  Ms. Dyer is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Fulton.

Elizabeth Frank is a life-long parishioner of St. Joseph/St. Patrick’s Parish in Utica.  She is proud to note that her parish is the place where St. Marianne Cope was raised.  Betty is a member of the secular Franciscans, has been at daily Mass for decades and has shown special care for the elderly in the Utica community.  She is responsible for organizing devotion to Divine Mercy, Perpetual Adoration and prayer groups in her parish for over twenty years.

Virginia A. Lostumbo is a parishioner of Our Lady of Pompei Church in Syracuse.  She served as Co-Chairperson of the 125th Anniversary observance in the diocese and has been active in a variety of Catholic affairs for decades.

John D. Marshall is also a parishioner of Our Lady of Pompei Church in Syracuse and served as the Co-Chairman of the 125th Anniversary observance of the Diocese.  John is active as a member of his parish and has served on the Diocesan Finance Committee.

Mary Jane Osada has served as the Executive Assistant to the Director of Catholic Charities for over 35 years.  During this time she has faithfully served six different diocesan directors and continues to work on a part-time basis in the Catholic Charities office.  She is a parishioner of St. Ann’s Church, Syracuse.

Kathleen Pfaffenbach is a parishioner of St. James Parish in Johnson City and a thirty-year worker for Catholic Charities.  Kathleen has worked with young women placing infants for adoption and assists those who work with the hungry, flood victims, and numerous families who have been beset with tragedy.  Her work is both mission and ministry for her.

“I have been blessed with many dedicated, hard working clergy, religious, and laity since becoming Bishop of Syracuse,” states Bishop Cunningham.  “It gives me great joy to honor some of these priests, sisters and lay people with a Papal Honor particularly during the Year of Faith.”  Papal honors were last presented in the Diocese of Syracuse to eleven clergy and two business leaders in 2006.

For more information contact Danielle E. Cummings, Assistant Chancellor/Director of Communications at 315-470-1476.




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