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Veteran athenaeum employee receives highest papal award for laity

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May 24, 2012

Judy Tensing, who for 45 years has served The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West and for the past 30 years as assistant to Dennis Eagan, Athenaeum vice-president for finance and administration, was presented the papal honor of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Pope) for her service and care for the People of God.


Judy Tensing receives the Cross of Honour Award from Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. (Courtesy Photo)

The award was given April 4 to Tensing at the annual Archbishop’s Dinner recognizing the institution’s key benefactors — the Bishop Fenwick Society. The award was presented by Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, FatherBenedict O’Cinnsealaigh, president/rector of the Athenaeum and seminary and Mr. Eagan.


The award, also known as the “Cross of Honour” was established by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 to commemorate his golden jubilee and originally was bestowed on men and women who aided and promoted the jubilee. It was not intended as a long-standing award, Mr. Eagan explained.


It currently is given for distinguished service to the Church by lay people and clergy and is the highest medal that may be awarded to the laity by the Papacy, he noted.


“At the recommendation of Father Benedict and through the diligence and request of Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Pope Benedict XVI is showing his appreciation and the gratitude of the entire church,” by bestowing the award, Mr. Eagan said.


“While we are all honored by (Tensing) receiving the award, we are most grateful for the opportunity of knowing her and working with her. She has made me a better person, and I believe she has made the Athenaeum of Ohio and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary a better place for her service here,” Eagan said. “She is a true friend, who not only makes much of our work possible, but she makes us be our best: courageous and daring, generous and forgiving, determined and faithful.”

Ms. Tensing began her career at the Athenaeum and seminary when she was 19 and was invited by her uncle, former seminary rector and Athenaeum president, Monsignor Robert Tensing, to come and work with him. She has served with eight president/rectors. She also has served several parishes in the archdiocese and has worked with the archdiocese as chair of the Lay Employees Pension Fund.

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