CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Monsignor Edward Sadie was caught off guard to find out he would be promoted to a higher rank in the Catholic Church.
He thought the honor was reserved for officials who work for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
"I was completely surprised," said Sadie, the rector at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Charleston. "In fact, I couldn't even pronounce the word."
During an upcoming mass, Sadie will be promoted from "Prelate of Honor to His Holiness" to the rank of "Apostolic Protonotary Supernumerary." He'll still be known as Monsignor Sadie, though.
Sadie is among three Charleston residents who will receive papal honors at a special Mass on April 27.
Charleston laypeople Connie Carey and Carol Hannah, who both attend St. Agnes Catholic Church, will receive the "pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross," or the Cross of Honor. It is the highest medal the papacy can award lay people.
Seven other West Virginians -- the Rev. Brian O'Donnell of Wheeling; Sister Gail Borgmeyer, president of Pallottine Health Services in Huntington; Rev. David Galvin of Charles Town; Lawrence Bandi of Wheeling; Donald Kirisch of Wheeling; Terence McCormick of Wheeling and Clarence Martin III of Martinsburg -- will also receive papal honors.
Bishop Michael Bransfield, who oversees the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, nominated those who will receive the awards, which the Vatican approved. They are likely some of the last official acts by Pope Benedict XVI before he resigned in February.
"[Bishop Bransfield] knows them and he has noted through his role that they have excellent leadership and provided ample service and provided witness to the gospel calling of Christ through their careers, vocations and day-to-day living," said Brian Minor, a spokesman for the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the strength of character, faith and service by these many individuals who come from many different walks of life in our diocese and church," Minor said.
Sadie has been the rector at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral since 1980.
"This is a very distinguished moment in his priesthood, as Bishop Bransfield with affirmation from the Vatican is saluting his decades of service not only to the Charleston area community but his leadership to the Catholic Church in West Virginia," Minor said.
Before coming to Sacred Heart, Sadie was the priest at St. Agnes Church for 11 years.
"[The honor] means the pope with delight recognizes what I've done at Sacred Heart over the years," Sadie said.