By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – All the priests of the Philadelphia Archdiocese were recently named recipients of the 2010 Keys and Sword Award.

Centered on the symbols of the patron saints of the award’s sponsor, the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, the accolade acknowledges those whose actions reflect the Gospel values of faith, selfless service, personal sacrifice, respect and valor.

The fact that the majority of the priests were ordained at the Cathedral makes the award all the more fitting. “It’s humbling for us to accept this award from the place where it all began,” said Msgr. Daniel J. Sullivan, the Archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy.

As the universal Church officially closes out the Year of the Priest next month, Catholics across the Archdiocese are invited to join Cardinal Justin Rigali in congratulating the priests for their award in a celebration Sunday, June 20.

On that day, the Cardinal will serve as principal celebrant and homilist at the 11 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral on 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and, on behalf of all 599 priests, accept the award at a luncheon that follows at the Philadelphia Union League, located at 140 South Broad Street.

Tickets to the award ceremony are available to the general public. Those who attend will have the opportunity to personally acknowledge and affirm the values the award honors.

Proceeds from the event will be placed in the Keys and Sword Fund, which was established in 2008 to foster the Cathedral’s visitors’ programs and sacred music program and to strengthen understanding of the artistic and historical significance of the Cathedral to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia.

Msgr. Michael T. McCulken, rector of the Cathedral, acknowledges the Keys and Sword committee members for their work in planning the event. He also extends a thank you to all who have already pledged sponsorships to the event.

“We invite everyone to consider participation,” he said. Those who do will give recognition to the priests of the Archdiocese and, at the same time, support the works and projects of the Cathedral.

“We all belong to the Cathedral Basilica – this is the mother church” of the Archdiocese, he said. “It’s filled with a history of faith and of service to God and to the people.”

The Keys and Sword inaugural honoree was Msgr. James J. Howard, pastor emeritus of the Cathedral. He served as rector for 27 years, from 1973 to 2000, the longest tenure of any rector in the Cathedral’s history.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, a Catholic, was last year’s recipient.

For more information or to reserve tickets, visit the Cathedral web site, or call 215- 561-1313.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or