On Tuesday, April 4, 2023, Sister Suzanne (Sue) Walker received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope) papal award at the annual Chrism Mass celebrated in St. Andrew Church in Holts Summit, MO. The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross is bestowed on those who exemplify distinguished service, particularly for clear and tireless effort and dedication to the Church. It is the highest honor that the Pope can give to a religious sister. On the Pope’s behalf, Bishop McKnight presented the award “in gratitude for her many years of faithful and devoted service as a consecrated religious to the Church and the education of our children.” He said:
Sister Suzanne served in our diocese at Holy Rosary Parish and School in Monroe City from 1975-2022--a total of 47 years in that one assignment! During her time at Holy Rosary Parish, a new school building was erected which is a testimony to her dedication and commitment to education in the Catholic tradition. Thank you, Sister Suzanne, for your commitment to serving the People of God.
The current medal of this papal honor was designed by Pope St. Paul VI who was pope from 1963-78, and it is a gold Greek cross bearing the image of the Apostles Peter and Paul, with a papal coat of arms. It is bestowed by decree of the Pope upon laity and religious for their outstanding service to the Roman Catholic Church. At the base of the cross is the Latin name of the Pope and his coat of arms.
The proclamation reads:
THE SUPREME PONTIFF FRANCIS HAS SEEN FIT TO DECREE AND BESTOW ON SISTER SUZANNE WALKER, OP THE MEDAL OF THE CROSS OF HONOR FOR THE CHURCH AND THE POPE AWARDED PARTICULARLY FOR CLEAR AND TIRELESS EFFORT AND DEDICATION, AND HE GRANTS HER LIKEWISE THE FACULTY TO ASSUME THIS ORNAMENT AS DECORATION.
Father Gregory Oligschlaeger, the pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Monroe City and St. Stephen Parish in Indian Creek, helped her place the medal on her lapel. Sister Suzanne said, “I feel very honored to have been selected to receive this papal award. I have truly been blessed by being able to work with the people of God in our Jefferson City Diocese for these many years. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have been given to grow in my faith and help others to grow in their faith.”
Sister Sue’s family, friends, and Dominican Sisters were delighted to attend the mass and expressed their gratitude that Sister Sue received this award. The Holy Rosary School Community in Monroe City also expressed their deep affection for Sister Sue and the honor they felt at her receiving this award.
Thanks to Jay Nies, Editor at The Catholic Missourian for contributing information and graphic for this article.
Follow this link to read more about Sister Sue and Sister Loretta's connection to the local community: