Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Florida Catholic staff - Florida Catholic
TALLAHASSEE | At a breakfast held March 8, 2023, Florida’s Catholic bishops presented two recipients with the Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. Distinguished Catholic Leader Award. The event was attended by all eight Catholic bishops of Florida and nearly 300 Catholic faithful from across the state who were in Tallahassee to participate in Catholic Days at the Capitol.
The Distinguished Catholic Leader Award is presented to Catholic Floridians whose lives exemplify Gospel values and whose work has influenced the formation of public policies or programs that have enhanced the life of the Church, deepened respect for life and increased appreciation for human dignity. The award is named for and was first presented in 1995 to Thomas A. Horkan, Jr., founding executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference.
The first award recipient, Dale Recinella, was recognized for his more than two-decades of prison ministry. After a near death experience, Recinella rededicated his life to service, including ministry on the streets of Tallahassee and to people suffering with AIDS. That path ultimately led him to minister to those who are incarcerated and to serve as a lay Catholic chaplain on Florida’s death row. Recinella is the founder of I Was in Prison Outreach Ministry, an attorney and author. Recinella has worked tirelessly in his ministry to those behind bars and is a strong advocate for ending the use of the death penalty.
Next to be recognized was Kiera Camron who was honored for her many years of service to expectant mothers and their families. Camron was the founding director of Open Door Women's Clinic in Tallahassee, as well as a founding board member of the Florida Pregnancy Care Network. Established and funded by the state of Florida in 2005, the Florida Pregnancy Care Network strengthens the work of pregnancy support centers by providing resources to assist pregnant women as they prepare to parent or place their babies for adoption. As a wife and mother of five children, Camron was also passionate about home education and raising her children with values and skills for service to God and others.
Camron is the first recipient to receive the Distinguished Catholic Leader Award posthumously, after succumbing to complications from breast cancer in September 2022. The award was accepted on her behalf by her eldest daughter, Meredith Camron.
Catholic Days at the Capitol is held annually in Tallahassee and offers Catholic laity and clergy an opportunity to engage their state lawmakers. Inspired by the leadership and service of both award recipients, Catholic Days participants headed to the state Capitol to advocate in support of abortion restrictions and increased funding for the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, and against legislation that would make it easier to impose a death sentence in Florida by eliminating a unanimous jury requirement in capital sentencing. Participants also advocated for expanded opportunities in educational choice for K-12 students.