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Four from Neumann University to Receive Papal Honors

Photo of Mr. Anthony Mirenda and Dr. Rosalie Mirenda
Mr. Anthony and Dr. Rosalie Mirenda
Photo of Mrs. Danielle Peyakovich McNichol, Esq.
Mrs. Danielle Peyakovich McNichol, Esq.
Photo of Dr. Mary Beth Yount
Dr. Mary Beth Yount

Pope Francis has bestowed Papal Honors upon 45 individuals – including four from Neumann University -- for their dedication and exceptional service to the World Meeting of Families Philadelphia-2015 and the pastoral visit of the Holy Father to Philadelphia. Among 16 people receiving the Benemerenti Medal are Dr. Rosalie Mirenda, Neumann’s president; Mr. Anthony Mirenda, university ambassador; Mrs. Danielle Peyakovich McNichol, Esq. university general counsel; and Dr. Mary Beth Yount, assistant professor of pastoral and theological studies.


The honors will be formally presented by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on Thursday, Nov. 17 at a 6:30 p.m. ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.


The Benemerenti (to a well-deserved person) Medal was created by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and was first awarded to soldiers in the papal army. The medal was later extended to members of the clergy and laity for exceptional service to the Roman Catholic Church.


Dr. Mirenda served on the World Meeting’s board of directors and coordinated support for the organization from all the Catholic institutions of higher education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, all with the support and assistance of her husband Tony.

Mrs. McNichol served as the WMOF-Philadelphia 2015 general counsel and director of human resources. In this role, she provided strategic direction of human resources policies for all volunteers, ensured compliance with government regulations, and implemented training programs for the international event. More than 1,500 contracts were executed during the World Meeting of Families.


Dr. Yount served as the director of content and programming for the global event that the Roman Catholic Church hosts every three years and for the Papal visit.  She was responsible for leading the development of programs and educational sessions for the conference, which drew more than 10,000 participants to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and in charge of the content and programming for the Festival of Families and other Papal events during that weekend.


In addition to the Benemerenti Medals, Pope Francis named two individuals as Dame/Knight Grand Cross in the Order of St. Gregory the Great; 19 as Dame/Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great; and eight to receive the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Cross for the Church and Pontiff).