Three area Catholics recently received the Francis X. Gartland Award for distinguished service to the Catholic Church in South Georgia.
William F. Smith and Mary Louise Harris, both of Saint Anne’s in Richmond Hill, and Antonio Buenorostro of Holy Cross in Pembroke were among the 73 nominees to receive the award from Bishop J. Kevin Boland during the Mass on the Solemnity of Christ the King in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Savannah.
Named for Francis X. Gartland, the first Bishop of Savannah, the award was instituted in 2000 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Savannah.
The gold and blue award pin combines elements of Gartland’s episcopal coat of arms with elements from the shield of the Diocese of Savannah. His motto, Vincit Veritas, or “Truth conquers,” is inscribed on the pin.
Gartland, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1805, was named bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Savannah in July 1850. A true missionary bishop, he traveled the expanse of the diocese, which at that time included all of Georgia and part of northern Florida.
When a yellow fever epidemic struck the city of Savannah, he visited the sick tirelessly, administering the sacraments, until he, himself, contracted the fever and died in 1854.