The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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Religion

August 10, 2012

Bishop Trautman successor named

Outgoing leader presents papal honors to couples

SHARON — Bishop Donald Trautman already was scheduled to come to Sharon to honor two couples from St. Joseph Church who had received honors from the pope. But as it turned out, there was another reason to celebrate Sunday.

Five days earlier, on July 31, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Trautman’s successor. The Rev. Monsignor Lawrence T. Persico will serve as the 10th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie. He will be ordained and installed as bishop during a Mass Oct. 1 in Erie.

Monsignor Persico’s appointment brings official retirement for Bishop Trautman, 76. All bishops are required to submit their resignations when they turn 75, and though he had done so last year, it took this long for the church to name his replacement.

So as it turned out, Bishop Trautman also offered the Mass in Sharon as a Mass of Thanksgiving for the new bishop.

“The new bishop will build upon a firm foundation,” Bishop Trautman said Sunday. “He comes as an instrument of the Lord.”

Monsignor Persico, 61, was born in Monessen and ordained a priest in 1977. He most recently has been serving several administrative roles, including as acting chancellor of the Diocese of Greensburg, as well as a pastor of a church there.

Bishop Trautman will continue to serve as bishop until Monsignor Persico’s installation.

And that meant on Sunday he delivered papal honors from Rome to Francis and Carole Petrini and George and Adrianne Ward. Both couples received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal – an award for service to the church and the pope. It’s the highest honor that can be given to lay members of the church.

The Rev. Glenn Whitman, pastor of St. Joseph Church, recognized both couples for their many good works to the church.

The Petrinis have been particularly dedicated to the Serra Club, an international organization that works to “foster and promote” vocations to the priesthood and religious life. They’ve worked on building improvements at the church, projects at the church cemetery and, when St. Joseph School was open, sat through countless parent-teacher organization meetings, Rev. Whitman said.

The Wards too have been tireless volunteers. When Rev. Whitman came to the parish he said the Wards often were his guides as he learned the ropes, and they helped manage the parish’s finances. They coordinate volunteers at Prince of Peace and have cooked and baked food for every fundraising sale and celebration.

To the couples, Bishop Trautman said, “You have served in a meritorious way.”

“To all of you, be proud of your parish. Work together to build up your local church,” he said. “Be proud of this, your spiritual home.”

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