Media and Communications Office
It gave Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart particular pleasure on Sunday morning to present his own Executive Assistant with a prestigious papal honour.
Pope Francis has awarded Mrs Nicky Kitson the papal cross known as Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, and Archbishop Hart, during Sunday’s Solemn Cathedral Mass, bestowed the award on her, adding that it gave him particular joy to acknowledge Nicky’s extended service to the Church, the last fourteen as the Archbishop’s Executive Assistant.
The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Latin for 'For Church and Pope', is a papal award also referred to as the ‘Decoration of Honour’. The award has existed since its institution by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, and is conferred 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 Pope.
In his remarks at the Mass, the Archbishop praised Mrs Kitson for her unflagging loyalty and commitment.
He said, ‘Today we wish to thank and honour Mrs Nicky Kitson, who is the Executive Assistant to the Archbishop and has been with us here in Melbourne for fourteen years. Previous to this she was the Bishop's Secretary for sixteen years to Bishops Ray Benjamin and Michael Putney in Townsville, and since coming to Melbourne she has provided wise counsel, invaluable executive assistance and support in the myriad of things that Archbishops need.
‘Her great love of the Church, her loyalty to people and her ability to be a great ambassador for us, is something which stands out clearly in the remarkable witness which she has given and which is now recognised by the Holy Father. Congratulations Nicky.’
After the Mass, Mrs Kitson was joined by friends and family for more congratulations.
For this great papal honour, the Archdiocese of Melbourne adds its heartiest compliments and best wishes to the many Nicky has already received.
Photos by Rita Terunawidjaja