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HomeArticle‘Pro Deo et Principe’ — What the Order of St. Gregory the Great Means to Me

‘Pro Deo et Principe’ — What the Order of St. Gregory the Great Means to Me

‘Pro Deo et Principe’ — What the Order of St. Gregory the Great Means to Me

L to R: Bishop Michael Duignan, Dana Scallon and John McCaffery, president of the Irish Association of Papal Orders at the May 16 Mass. (photo: Courtesy of Dana Scallon)

 

There was only one place I wanted the ceremony to be held: my own parish church of the Assumption and St. James, in Claregalway, Ireland.

It was just a couple of months ago that I received a call from my bishop, Bishop Michael Duignan, newly appointed bishop of the Irish Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. He informed me that I was to be admitted as dame to the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great.

It was a complete surprise to me. I had never previously heard of this papal order and so began my journey of discovery of another facet of our amazing Catholic Church.

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of Pope Gregory the Great was established on Sept. 1, 1831, by Pope Gregory XVI, seven months after he was elected pope.

The order’s motto is Pro Deo et Principe (“For God and Ruler”). It’s bestowed by authority of the pope, following a detailed nomination process, in recognition of a person’s exceptional service to the Catholic faith and the Church.

Around 100 Irish people have received it, among them Count John McCormack and Frank Patterson. I was to be the 14th Irish woman to receive this honor.

My husband, Damien, and I subsequently met with Bishop Duignan to discuss the ceremony and he explained that I could choose where and how I wanted to receive this honor.

My first choice was a private ceremony, perhaps in the bishop’s office, but he explained that it had to be bestowed in the setting of the Mass and that I could choose to have the Mass said in any church I wanted.

There was only one place I wanted the ceremony to be held: my own parish church of the Assumption and St. James, in Claregalway, Ireland. In that way, I could share this very special occasion with my family and friends, as well as my parish family.

Our wonderful parish priest, Father Ian O’Neill, arranged everything, and the parish council set to work to make it a most beautiful experience that I will never forget.

On May 16, we all excitedly gathered for 7:30 p.m. Mass in our parish church.

The joint parish and folk choirs sang beautifully. Our son Robert did the readings; and Damien and our daughter Ruth brought up the gifts. Our other two children, family and friends who could not be with us in person watched the livestream coverage in Africa, Australia, America and various European countries.

 

Dana Scallon and fmaily May 16, 2024
Dana Scallon with her husband, Damien, and two of their children, Robert and Ruth.(Photo: Courtesy of Dana Scallon)

 

It was the feast day of St. Brendan of Clonfert, one of the 12 apostles of Ireland.

I was very moved as I listened to the bishop’s homily, during which he said that, on bestowing this honor, Pope Francis had recognized a “lifetime of faith-filled service, in tireless work to promote Catholic faith and Catholic values.”

He continued:

 

Like St. Brendan, Dana, you too have discovered that pearl of great price, and you too have given everything in pursuit of its possession. Over decades now, you have tirelessly held up the Christian faith as a sure wisdom for the journey of life, an unquenchable light in the many darknesses that life brings, and a beacon of hope for the future.

 

His homily was truly a powerful teaching for each one of us:

 

To be a dame, or to be a knight, requires the bravery, the stamina of Brendan, when it comes to the life of faith. It requires being out front, leading the way — finding new paths, new ways, new faith-filled adventures. The investiture of a new dame or a new knight reminds us all of our profound calling as Christians not only to welcome the Gospel message into our own hearts and our own lives, but also to move out, to share it with those around us: to share it with our families, our friends, our work companions, our community, our fellow countrymen and women.

 

Dana wearing her medal
Dana wearing her medal(Photo: Courtesy of Dana Scallon)

 

Irish singer Dana Scallon has appeared regularly on EWTN. At World Youth Day 1993, she wrote and sang the theme song, We Are One Body, for Pope St. John Paul II. Today, Dana, as she is known worldwide, continues to sing and speak at events, affirming Catholics in their faith. 

 

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