Brother Richard Kestler, right, with Brother Joseph Willard of La Salle University, left, with other award recipients

Philadelphia, PA – Pope Francis has bestowed papal honors upon 28 women and men in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for their dedication and exceptional service to the church, including our Brother Richard Kestler, FSC.

The honors were conferred upon the individuals by Archbishop Charles Chaput during a Vespers service Sunday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia.

Nine have been named Dame or Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great, 11 received the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Cross for the Church and Pontiff), including Br. Richard; and eight received the Benemerenti (To a Well Deserved Person) Medal.

Brothers Joseph and Richard pose for a photo. Br. Joseph received the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Honor in 1998.

Each of the honorees “has performed some exceptional service for the church or offered some form of outstanding Christian witness in a generous and sustained way – in education, philanthropy, diaconal and religious life, prolife and vocations work, social ministry, and other apostolates,” said Archbishop Chaput. “Each has earned the gratitude of the Holy Father and our whole Catholic community.

Honoree Brother Richard, with Auxiliary Visitor, Br. Richard Galvin.

“But more importantly, each represents and stands in for the many thousands of other committed Catholics who serve the Gospel every day with the same fidelity and unselfish love. Christian discipleship is not about accumulating honors. In the long run, the only award that really matters is the friendship of God. But these special expressions of papal praise and gratitude are moments of grace for all of us, and they’re meant to be a source of joy for the whole local church.”

The Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice was established in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII and is given to Catholics age 45 and over who have shown distinguished service to the church and the papal office. Honored with the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Br. Richard has dedicated his religious life to the ministry of Catholic education as a teacher and administrator. In addition to many years as a classroom instructor at various Catholic schools and Lasallian ministries, he served as president of West Catholic Preparatory High School from 1999 to 2005 and again from 2012 to 2016 before retiring. He continues to further the mission of Catholic education as a volunteer at West Catholic and La Salle University, and is the community director at Anselm Hall, on the University’s campus.

To learn more about the other honorees, visit >

Speaking of Brother, honors, and La Salle Univeristy, this was the second time this academic year that Brother Richard received an honor in the city of Philadelphia. In the fall he was awarded the President’s Medal by Dr. Colleen Hanycz of La Salle University in October during La Salle’s first ever One Big Weekend. Families, alum, students, and staff filled campus for three days of Homecoming and Family Weekend events including Honors Convocation, the Chemistry Show, Carnifall, Vegas Night, Family Liturgy, Brunch with the Brothers and Lasallians.