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Three new monsignors receive papal honors at solemn vespers

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated solemn vespers and the conferral of papal honors for Msgrs. Robert E. Avella, John C. Cregan and Stanley J. Krempa at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington May 6. 

Msgr. Avella is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington. Msgr. Cregan is a retired pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria. Msgr. Krempa is the pastor of St. Bridget of Ireland Church in Berryville. The monsignors were joined by friends, family and fellow diocesan priests. 

The papal honor of “Chaplain to His Holiness” and receipt of the title monsignor were announced March 8. Bishop Burbidge made the recommendations to the Holy See. 

“In honoring the (monsignors), the priesthood is lifted up and celebrated as are the various ministries they have embraced and the faithful they have served throughout the years,” Bishop Burbidge said during his homily. “I know they share this honor with all of you.”


Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, presented the candidates to Bishop Burbidge following the homily. The bishop gave the rescript, an official announcement, to the monsignors and invited them to hold up the documents for all to see, in echo of the bishop’s lifting of his letter as a newly installed bishop Dec. 6, 2016.

Though retired, Msgr. Cregan is far from inactive. He serves as an adjunct spiritual director at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

“It’s really quite an honor for us to have someone that is on our staff (become a monsignor),” said Msgr. Andrew R. Baker, rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. “It’s an honor for the seminarians to see a priest who has been faithful all this time and continues to be active as a priest.” 

Msgr. Cregan was reminded of the gift of the priesthood and humbled by the event. “There are so many people here who were a special part of my priesthood,” he said. “It inspires us to do the best we can to never take this great gift for granted.”  

Father Edward C. Hathaway, pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria, said it was great to have these men recognized by the Holy See. “All three of those men have served in multiple capacities and really helped our diocese to be strong and a wonderful place of the faith,” he said. 

Sharon Gormas was at Vespers to celebrate Msgr. Krempa. “Any opportunity to share in his joys and show our love for him is exactly what we want to do,” she said. 

Gormas’ mother, Joan Moreci, was at Msgr. Avella’s ordination and attended vespers.

“Along with Bishop Loverde, who is with us in prayer and spirit, I join all of you, my brother priests, dear deacons, consecrated religious, seminarians as well you the family, friends, and former and current parishioners of our newest monsignors in thanking them for the testimony of their lives and for the gift they are to the church and our diocese,” said Bishop Burbidge.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018