OGDENSBURG - Bishop Terry R. LaValley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg recently announced that Pope Francis has awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross to a religious sister and 13 lay people in the North Country - including one from Lake Placid.
LaValley conferred the crosses on the recipients at a special vesper service Sunday at St. Mary's Cathedral.
The recipients of the papal honors include Catherine Sponable of Lake Placid, John T. Middleton, Ph.D. of Plattsburgh, Mary Ann Lepkowski of Turin, Catherine Denny of Ogdensburg, Elizabeth Hartzell of Watertown, Mary Besio of Massena, Patricia Stabins of Watertown, Roger Snyder and Colleen Snyder of Lake Pleasant, Sister Mary Teresa LaBrake, GNSH, of Ogdensburg, Leo Giroux and Theresa Giroux of Plattsburgh, Joseph A. Provoncha of North Hudson and James D. Carroll of Plattsburgh.
The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice ("for church and pope") 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 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 Saints Peter and Paul, three crosses, a papal tiara and and the words "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice." 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."
The recipients were nominated for these papal honors by LaValley after consultation with their pastors. A brief biography of each recipient is set forth in the pages of the North Country Catholic, the diocesan-run weekly newspaper.
"It is so fitting that we recognize the faith and dedication of these generous men and women in this Year of Faith," LaValley said. "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."