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Veteran educator earns papal honor

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The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal was awarded to Sister of Mercy Helen Lucille Habig by Pope Francis. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)
The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal was awarded to Sister of Mercy Helen Lucille Habig by Pope Francis. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

Press Release

Pope Francis has awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal to retiring Assistant Superintendent Sister of Mercy Helen Lucille Habig. The medal was presented to Sister Helen Lucille during a retirement celebration June 11. Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice translates as “For Church and Pope.”

“The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal is awarded to vowed religious who demonstrate exceptional service to the Catholic Church” said Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr in a letter to Sister Helen Lucille. “I was very pleased to petition Pope Francis for this award. This request was accompanied by the strong endorsement of Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools, and Sister Jane Hotstream, president of the Sisters of Mercy, South Central Province.”

Sister Helen Lucille began her educational ministry in 1956, serving as a teacher and administrator at several area Catholic schools. In 1971, she joined the Catholic Schools Office of the archdiocese, acting as assistant superintendent for math instruction. In this capacity, she offered thousands of math workshops to teachers throughout the 19 counties of the archdiocese.

Sister Helen Lucille later took on roles in government programs and school accreditation, eventually becoming the director of the eastern region of Catholic schools. She has also taught classes in math instruction at Xavier University. She received the prestigious “St. Peter the Rock” Award from the archdiocese in 2013.

“In the spring of 2013, Sister Helen conveyed her decision that this would her last year.” said Rigg. “I knew this would be a big transition. Working directly for four archbishops and numerous superintendents, Sister Helen has truly lived the history of our office. She is a woman of great wisdom, dedication, and faith.”

“Sister Helen is an institution” said Marianne Rosemond, principal of St. Mary School in Hyde Park. “I could always count on Sr. Helen to have my back. She is the best of friends to our schools!”

Sister Helen Lucille was to officially retire June 30. “Sister Helen has impacted hundreds of thousands of students and teachers” said Rigg. “She will be missed.”

This story originally appeared in the July 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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