News Release: Highest Papal Award Granted to Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M.

September 24, 2010

(LANSING)—Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Catholic Conference, has been awarded the Holy Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pontiff) medal by Pope Benedict XVI.

The papal award was presented to Sister Monica September 8, 2010 at the Michigan Catholic Conference location in downtown Lansing, from which she will retire in November. The medal was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 and is now bestowed upon lay persons and clergy who, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “deserve well of the pope on account of services done for the Church and its head.” Saints Peter and Paul are engraved on the front of the medal while the Coat of Arms of the Holy See and of the State of Vatican City is engraved on the back. The medal’s ribbon is white and yellow, the colors of the flag of the Holy See.

Most Reverend Earl Boyea, bishop of the Diocese of Lansing, recommended Sister Monica for the papal award.

“Sister Monica has been an exemplary leader of the MCC, has worked extraordinarily well with the Bishops of the State of Michigan, and is completely dedicated to the Catholic Church and especially to Her social teachings,” says Bishop Boyea. “If Sister Monica had completed only one-tenth of all that she has done over these many years, she would have deserved this papal award. We are so indebted to her for her love and service.”

Sister Monica will retire from the Michigan Catholic Conference as President and Chief Executive Officer on November 15 after 38 years of service. Beginning her tenure as a Public Affairs Assistant for Education, Sister Monica became Executive Vice President for Public Affairs in 1983 before being named President/CEO in 1994. Sister Monica, a native of Detroit, received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English and Medieval Studies from the University of Detroit.

In 1999, Sister Monica received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Sacred Heart Major Seminary for providing “outstanding leadership in the defeat of the referendum (Proposal B) on physician-assisted suicide,” and the Saint Thomas More Award from the Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Diocese of Lansing in 1997 for “tireless efforts to influence legislation that promotes sound public policy, respect for the human person, and the common good.”

Throughout her career Sister Monica has served both the local and the national church on matters related to Catholic education, law, human development and health care. She is a past member of Catholic Charities USA Social Policy Committee, past president and treasurer/secretary of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors, and current member of the National Diocesan Attorneys’ Association.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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