Pope Francis Bestows Title of ‘Monsignor’ on Three Catholic Diocese of Arlington Priests



March 8, 2018


ARLINGTON, Va.  – Three priests from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington have been named by Pope Francis as a “Chaplain to His Holiness” with the title “Monsignor” after recommendations were made to the Holy See by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington.


The new Monsignors are:

  • Rev. Msgr. Stanley J. Krempa, Pastor of St. Bridget of Ireland Church in Berryville
  • Rev. Msgr. John C. Cregan, retired, Pastor Emeritus, Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria
  • Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Avella, Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington


In a statement, Bishop Burbidge said, “In unity with Bishop Loverde, my brother priests, as well as all of the deacons, consecrated religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Arlington, I congratulate Monsignor Robert Avella, Monsignor John Cregan, and Monsignor Stanley Krempa for the recognition they have received for their dedicated and faithful priestly service. Their priestly ministries have been and remain a special gift to the Diocese of Arlington! They have demonstrated the virtues of the priestly vocation, and their lives have inspired all who know them, especially their brother priests and those discerning a vocation to the priesthood. I ask all in the Diocese of Arlington to join me in congratulating these wonderful priests and to continue to pray for them."

The three priests join the Diocese’s three other Monsignors — Rev. Msgr. Frank J. Hendrick, Rev. Msgr. R. Roy Cosby and Rev. Msgr. Frank E. Mahler, all retired.



What does it mean to be a “Monsignor”?

“Monsignor” is the form of address for priests who receive from the pope certain ecclesiastical honorific titles. Monsignors have rendered valuable service to the Church and provide some special function in church governance.

These honorific titles include papal awards which Pope Paul VI reduced to three classes: Protonotary Apostolic, Prelate of Honor, and Chaplain to His Holiness. Pope Francis stated that he would accept no further recommendations from Diocesan bishops for nominations to the first two of these classes, but will continue to accept nominations to that of Chaplain to His Holiness and that consideration would only be given to priests 65 years or older.

To learn more about Monsignors Krempa, Cregan and Avella, please read below:


Monsignor Stanley J. Krempa

Father Stanley J. Krempa

Monsignor Krempa was born April 21, 1945, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Stanley and Charlotte Krempa. He graduated from Canisius High School in Buffalo in 1962. He attended St. John Vianney College Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y. (1962-66), and St. John Vianney Major Seminary in East Aurora (1966-67). He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Buffalo Dec. 19, 1970, by Bishop James A McNulty.

From 1971 to 1977, Father Krempa served in the Diocese of Buffalo, including as an instructor and chaplain at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute. In 1977, he took a leave of absence from pastoral ministry to pursue a civil law degree while remaining a priest in good standing. He completed his degree from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 1981, then worked as a civil lawyer.

Father Krempa returned to full-time priestly ministry in the Diocese of Arlington in 1985 and was incardinated into the Diocese by Bishop John R. Keating in 1987. Father Krempa served as parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Lake Ridge (1986-88), parochial vicar at St. Louis Church in Alexandria (1988-91), pastor of St. Mary Church in Alexandria (1991-97), pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester and St. Bridget of Ireland Mission in Berryville (1997-2017). When the mission was named a parish in 2017, Father was made its first pastor.

He has served as Vicar Forane (2012-current) and as a member of the College of Consultors (1997-2000), the Prebyteral Council (2014-current), the Land Assessment Committee (2006-12) and the Diocesan Review Board (2002-07, 2008-13).

Father Krempa has published his homilies in several volumes since 1984 and comments on  the Gospel for the Catholic Herald.


Monsignor John C. Cregan

Father John Cregan

Monsignor Cregan was born Nov. 13, 1939, to Christopher and Mary Cregan in New York, N.Y. He attended Fordham Preparatory School in New York City and graduated in 1957. He continued his education at Fordham University in New York City, where he earned a degree in economics in 1961.

He then entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served as an officer for 22 years before retiring in 1983. While in the Marines, Father Cregan taught for five years, including more than three years at the Armed Services Staff College in Norfolk. He obtained a master’s in business administration in 1973 from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Father Cregan entered Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., for theological studies in 1983. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John R. Keating May 9, 1987. He has served as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church in Fredericksburg (1987-91), parochial vicar of Church of the Nativity in Burke (1991-93), and pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Colonial Beach (1993-96).

In 1996, Father Cregan was appointed pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria, where he served for 19 years before retiring in June 2015. During that time, he also served as Bishop’s Delegate for Clergy for the Diocese of Arlington (2006-11) and as Bishop’s Delegate for Retired Priests and Deacons for the Diocese of Arlington (2011-12). Father Cregan has served on many diocesan committees and boards, including the Presbyteral Council, the Pastoral Council, the Clergy Personnel Board, the College of Consultors and the Priest’s Retirement Committee. He has also served as Dean.

He currently resides at the St. Rose of Lima Priests’ Retirement Villa in Annandale. He continues his pastoral ministry as the associate state chaplain to the Knights of Columbus and as an adjunct spiritual director for Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.


Monsignor Robert E. Avella

Father Robert E. Avella

Monsignor Avella was born in Washington, D.C., to Gennaro and Anne Avella May 11, 1949. He was raised in Arlington, where he attended elementary school at St. Charles Borromeo School and his freshman year at Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School. In 1964, he entered St. John Vianney High School Seminary (now closed) in Goochland, Va., and graduated in 1967. Father Avella earned a bachelor’s in philosophy from St. Mary’s College Seminary in Baltimore, Md., in 1971. In 1975, he earned a master’s in divinity and master of the arts in theology from St. Mary’s University Theological Seminary in Baltimore.

Father Avella was ordained to the transitional diaconate in 1974 by Richmond Bishop Walter F. Sullivan and served at Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria. Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, first bishop of Arlington, ordained Father Avella to the priesthood May 10, 1975.

Since his ordination to the priesthood, Father Avella has served as parochial vicar at St. Ambrose Church in Annandale (1975-78) and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington (1984-85). He served as diocesan vocations director (1978-85; 2003) and as assigned chaplain to Bishop O’Connell High School (1985-89). He served as pastor of St. Leo’s Church in Fairfax (1989-99) and St. Mary Church in Alexandria (1999-2000). He was appointed Bishop’s Delegate for Clergy (1999-2006) and also served as the rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington (2003-06). Since 2006, Father Avella has served as pastor of the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington.

Father Avella has also served on numerous diocesan committees, including the Presbyteral Council (1995-97; 2010-14), the Committee on Priest’s Retirement (four terms: 2000-14), the Clergy Personnel Board (three terms: 1992-2006), the Diocesan School Board (2007-10), and the Committee on Priests’ Retirement Facility (2007-10).




The Diocese of Arlington is home to an estimated population of more than 600,000 Catholics living in 21 counties and seven cities in central and northern Virginia. Parishioners live out their faith at 70 parishes and six missions, and more than 17,500 students attend 45 Catholic pre-schools, elementary and high schools.