A rare papal honor has been bestowed upon a St. Louisan for the first time in the history of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. POPE BENEDICT XVI has presented DAVID MUECKL with the Papal Honor of Knight Commander with Star of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. The Order, established by POPE GREGORY XVI in 1831, is one of the five pontifical orders of knighthood in the Catholic Church. Well-known members include BOB HOPE, EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER and JOHN J. RASKOB. Mueckl has served Holy Mother Church at the Vatican level and here in St. Louis as chief administrative officer for the archdiocese. He is among only a handful of Americans to receive the honor. His installation into the Order, to be overseen by ARCHBISHOP ROBERT CARLSON, will be held in St. Louis at a yet-to-be determined date. 

    Warm wishes…Children at Our Little Haven and Saint Louis Crisis Nursery are the recipients of handmade blankets from students at WYDOWN MIDDLE SCHOOL in Clayton. The school’s sixth and eighth graders completed approximately 50 fleece blankets as part of a service project for children in need. Money to purchase some of the materials for the project came from a movie night hosted by students, and the rest came from donations. Delivery of the blankets is planned in the next few weeks. 

    The torch is passed…CHARLIE BRENNAN officially took over as host of Donnybrook this week, following provocateur MARTIN DUGGAN’s departure from the popular KETC show. During last month’s festive send-off for Duggan at The Sheldon, Brennan and fellow Donnybrookers RAY HARTMANN, BILL McCLELLAN, WENDY WIESE and ALVIN REID announced the establishment of The Martin Duggan-Donnybrook Honor to be given annually to an individual or institution that demonstrates the values Duggan promoted on the show: civility and decency in both discourse and judgment. The first-ever recipient is former KMOX broadcaster and show regular ANNE KEEFE, who was absent during the event due to an illness in the family.  

    KINDERMUSIK ACADEMY is continuing its offer of free music classes into the new year. The school, with locations in Chesterfield, Clayton and Des Peres, launched its free tuition scholarship program last year to respond to families in need. The academy is currently taking applications from families in which one partner has lost a full-time job. Winter/spring semester classes for babies and children up to seven years with an adult begin Jan. 25. Eligible families receive free tuition for once-a-week classes with reduced payment for materials. Kindermusik is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program that involves parent participation.

    BOB COHN and DONALD SUGGS will be feted later this month at the Jews United for Justice sixth annual Heschel/ King Celebration. Cohn, editor-in-chief emeritus of St. Louis Jewish Light, and Suggs, president/publisher of St. Louis American, are being honored with the 2010 Heschel/King award. The honor is given to members of the Jewish and African-American communities who have shown commitment to public service, and to civil and human rights as exemplified by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The free Jan. 24 ceremony will take place at Congregation Sha’are Emeth.

    Giddy Up! The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s big event in October will be dubbed the Diamond Ball Western Roundup, thanks to an appearance by HUGH O’BRIAN, who starred as TV’s Wyatt Earp in the 1950s. O’Brian is serving as this year’s honorary national chairman. We’re told the Oct. 9 event at Old Warson Country Club will include a re-enactment of the infamous OK Corral gunfight with a saloon scene.

    The ST. LOUIS HERB SOCIETY’s Herbal Cookery cookbook has been picked as ‘Best Fundraising Cookbook’ in the U.S. for 2009 by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. The Society will receive the award at the first World Exhibition of nonprofit and fundraising cookbooks next month in Paris. Herbal Cookery, which features more than 200 recipes incorporating garden herbs, was chosen from entries hailing from more than 73 countries. Proceeds from the book are used to support continued research and education at the Missouri Botanical Garden.