By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Nine men and women of the Archdiocese of Louisville have been selected to receive special honors from Pope Francis for their service to the Roman Catholic Church.
Two women will receive the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, the highest award given by the Holy Father to the faithful. In English, the award title means “for church and the pope.” It was established in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII and is granted for lifelong distinguished service to the church, according to a letter Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz sent to pastors last week.
The recipients of this papal honor are:
Norma Merrick, vice-chancellor of the archdiocese and long-time secretary to Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly. She is a member of St. Bartholomew Church.
Sister of Mercy Mary Prisca Pfeffer, a former high school principal who remains active in the local church well into her 90s. She lives at the St. Catherine Convent on Tyler Lane and attends St. Raphael Church.
Seven people will receive the Benemerenti Medal. The award honors individuals for their dedicated service to the Church, according to the archbishop’s letter. In English, the award means “well deserved.”
The recipients of the Benemerenti Medal are:
- Dr. Salem M. George Sr., a member of St. Augustine Church, Lebanon, Ky.
- Dr. William J. Godfrey, St. James Church parishioner, Elizabethtown, Ky.
- Mr. Richard A. Lechleiter, a member of Holy Spirit Church, Louisville.
- The Honorable Romano L. Mazzoli, former U.S. Congressman and an Our Mother of Sorrows Church parishioner.
- Dr. Brian B. Reynolds, chancellor of the archdiocese and a member of Holy Trinity Church, Louisville.
- Mrs. M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Ministry and a member of St. Martin de Porres Church.
- Mrs. Clara Zoeller, St. Lawrence Church parishioner.
The award recipients were recommended for these honors by Archbishop Kurtz.
A special ceremony to present the papal honors will be held on Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
“These honors are being bestowed on those who serve Christ and His people through their witness of love and service that represents countless others,” the archbishop wrote in his letter to pastors. “These honors reflect the importance of faithful lay leadership and represent the special relationship of our archdiocese with our Holy Father and the Universal Church.”
Honorees will receive special medals, to be worn on the breast, suspended from a striped ribbon in the papal colors of yellow and white. They also will receive lapel pins.