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North country residents among papal award recipients


A Grey Nun and 13 lay persons have been awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross by Pope Francis.

Ogdensburg Bishop Terry R. LaValley will confer the cross on the recipients at a special vespers service at St. Mary’s Cathedral Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.

“It is so fitting that we recognize the faith and dedication of these generous men and women in this Year of Faith. Their tireless dedication and outstanding service clearly demonstrate their love of God and His Church. It is people like these recipients who truly open the doors of faith for our world,” Bishop LaValley said in announcing the awards.

The recipients of the Papal Honors include Catherine Denny of Ogdensburg, Mary Besio of Massena, Sr. Mary Teresa LaBrake, GNSH, Ogdensburg, Elizabeth Hartzell of Watertown, Patricia Stabins of Watertown, Catherine Sponable of Lake Placid, John T. Middleton of Plattsburgh, Mary Ann Lepkowski of Turin, Roger and Colleen Snyder of Lake Pleasant, Leo and Theresa Giroux of Plattsburgh, Joseph A. Provoncha of North Hudson, and James D. Carroll of Plattsburgh.

The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 to commemorate his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination and was originally bestowed on those who aided and promoted the Jubilee. It is currently given for distinguished service to the Roman Catholic Church. It can be awarded to a lay person or a cleric. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Pope.

Each honoree will receive the medal and a certificate explaining the award. The medal is cast in gold. The cross includes the images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and includes the words “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” (for Church and Pope). It also contains three crosses and a papal tiara. The medal is attached to a yellow and white ribbon.

The certificate accompanying the cross states: “Pope Francis has determined to bestow the medal of the venerable cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, awarded in recognition of outstanding service distinguished by remarkable zeal and effort to [the recipient] and at the same time granting the aforementioned the honor of wearing the insignia of this award.”

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