Mary E. Rochford, former school superintendent for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has been given one of the highest honors a lay person can receive from the Vatican.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI had named Rochford to the pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Chaput said the honor recognized Rochford's service to the archdiocese and lay leadership.
Rochford, 59, the first woman to serve as superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, stepped down June 30 after nearly four years.
In a letter to Rochford, Chaput said: "Mary, you are a source of great pride for our archdiocese. Thank you for your service to Jesus Christ and his church. You honor us all."