Originally created 11/29/97

Pope honors area Catholics



Sister Rosemary Boyd, a long-time Aiken educator; Daniel M. Smith of North Augusta; and Wallace A. Rodgers of Ward, S.C., will stand with 11 others of the Diocese of Charleston on Sunday to receive honors sent by Pope John Paul II.

The ceremony will be at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston.

The three were notified this summer of papal recognition for years of service to the church.

"I was deeply honored. I really didn't feel worthy of it," Sister Boyd said. "People say, `Oh, you are. You deserve it,"' she said. "But I can think of so many others who are more worthy."

Sister Boyd, a sister of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, retired to her order's mother house on James Island, S.C., last year. She taught for 36 years in Aiken. For 24 of those years, she served as principal at St. Mary Help of Christians School in Aiken.

"I am sure even hundreds of names could have been submitted," she said. "I think (Bishop David B. Thompson) is trying to pick out different ministries to be representative."

She is receiving the papal medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for the church and the pontiff), established in 1888.

Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Smith will each be named a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, established in 1831. They are being honored for their character, reputation and accomplishments.

"Everybody around here is calling me `Sir Wallace Rodgers,"' he said. "I don't feel like I've done any more than what a lot of other people have done, other than having a genuine interest in seeing that the church has been taken care of."

Mr. Rodgers, a member of St. William Church in Ward, has worked for the South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. for 30 years. He has played a part in getting water to rural areas through his service on the Saluda County Water and Sewer Board. He has also assisted with the county illiteracy program.

He has served in several areas on the parish level, including St. William's ministry to the Hispanic community.

Mr. Smith, a member of Our Lady of Peace Church in North Augusta, has lived in the area since 1976.

"I learned that it is an old honor that used to be bestowed on people who protected the church, literally with swords," he said.

"There are plenty of people who work in the church and give their talent," he said. "This is just a way to connect the church at large with individuals in local communities who are doing the church's work."

He was chairman of the parish's building committee and has served as a financial adviser on the parish and diocesan levels. Mr. Smith, who retired from the Social Security Administration after a 27-year career, started the Government Benefits Information Service, a consulting company. Because of his knowledge of Medicare and Social Security issues, he was able to advise the diocese, he said.

Getting a certificate with the pope's name on it recognizing his service was like getting Hank Aaron's signature on a baseball, said Mr. Smith. He admires the church because it has resisted political and societal pressures, and the pope represents that stability to him, he said.

"To get an award from that church, to connect me to the church in that way, really meant a lot," he said.

Ceremony

WHO: Sr. Rosemary Boyd, Daniel M. Smith, Wallace A. Rodgers

WHAT: Papal honors

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston

COST: Free