Florida Catholic bishops award outstanding Catholic leaders

The Catholic bishops of Florida awarded the Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. Outstanding Catholic Leader Award to two honorees at a brunch on Wednesday, March 8. (Photo by Wan San Yip from Unsplash)

The Catholic bishops of Florida awarded the Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. Outstanding Catholic Leader Award to two honorees at a brunch on Wednesday, March 8.

The ceremony was attended by the eight Catholic bishops of Florida and about 300 Catholics from across the state who had traveled to Tallahassee for Catholic Days at the Capitol.

Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. Outstanding Catholic Leader Awardees

According to the Archdiocese of Miami, the Outstanding Catholic Leader Award is given to Catholic Floridians whose lives exemplify Christian ideals and whose work has affected the establishment of public policies or programs that have improved the life of the Church, deepened respect for life, and expanded understanding for human dignity. 

As mentioned, Thomas A. Horkan, Jr., the founding executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference, received the award for the first time in 1995.

Dale Recinella, the first award recipient, was honored for his more than two decades of prison preaching. 

After surviving a near-death experience, Recinella rededicated his life to service, including ministering on the streets of Tallahassee and to people with AIDS. It reportedly led him to minister to the jailed and serve as a lay Catholic chaplain on Florida's death row. 

Recinella is the attorney and author who founded the I Been in Prison Outreach Ministry. She has worked extensively in his ministry to those incarcerated and is an ardent proponent of abolishing the death penalty.

Next, Kiera Camron was acknowledged for her years of dedication to expecting women and their families. 

Camron was the founding director of the Open Door Women's Clinic in Tallahassee and a founding member of the Florida Pregnancy Care Network's board of directors. 

The organization was founded and financed by the state of Florida in 2005. The Florida Prenatal Care Network supports the work of pregnancy care centers by offering resources to assist pregnant women as they prepare to become parents or place their children for adoption. 

As a wife and mother of five children, Camron was passionate about home education and equipping her children with the necessary values and abilities to serve God and others.

Camron is the first winner of the Outstanding Catholic Leader Award posthumously; she passed away in September 2022 from complications related to breast cancer. Meredith Camron, her eldest child, collected the medal on her behalf.

Thomas A. Horkan, Jr.

Mike McCarron, current director of the Florida Catholic Conference, described Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. was a devoted layman of the Catholic Church in Florida who died and went to be with the Lord on Aug. 15, 2012.

Throughout the late 1960s and into this century, Horkan has been one of the most prominent Catholic laity leaders participating in public affairs at the national level. 

He is best noted for his tireless efforts at the Florida Catholic Conference. Following the guidance of the Florida Catholic bishops, he founded the Florida Catholic Conference on Feb. 1, 1969. 

He served as its executive director for 26 years and general counsel for ten years.

The Florida bishops also established Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. Award for Outstanding Catholic Leadership in 1995.

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