Sr. Mary Vas, CFMFS recipient of the pro – ecclesia et pontifice medal. Highest medal awarded to laity and the religious by the papacy.

June 24, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Sr. MaryMumbai, June 21, 2014: The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Latin: For the Church and the Pope) medal is an award of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also known as the “Cross of Honor”. The medal was instituted by Pope Leo XIII (July 17, 1888. “Quod Singulari”) in memory of his golden sacerdotal jubilee.

It is currently given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and the religious. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity and the religious by the Papacy.

On Saturday June 21 2014, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio and concelebrated by Rev. Msgr. Romanus Mbena, Rev. Msgr. Marco Sprizzi, Rev. Fr. Dr. Charles Vas, (Brother of Sr. Mary Vas and Director of Sangeet Abhinay Academy, Mumbai) and Rev. Fr. Royal Anthony (Education Director Catholic Diocese of Bareilly) at the Chapel of the Nunciature New Delhi.

During the year the Nuncio petitioned the Holy See to bestow upon Sr. Mary the Papal Honor, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, “In recognition of her effective and distinguished service to the Nunciature, New Delhi, India”.  By the act of decree and medal, “The Holy See has recognized her extraordinary service to the Church and her generosity of mind and heart in sharing her many gifts and talents to the nunciature for 23 long years”.

The current version of the medal is awarded in golden.  The obverse depicts the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  On the left arm of the cross is the inscription pro Ecclesia (For the Church), on the right arm of the cross is Et Pontifice (And Pope).  At the point of the bottom arm of the cross is the coat of arms of the reigning pope His Holiness Pope Francis I.  At the points of the other arms are the small Greek crosses.

Sr. Mary Vas, with her maiden name Cecilia, was born at Omzoor, in the diocese of Mangalore in December 1935.  She is the daughter of Late Mr. Jacob Vas and Late Mrs. Seraphine Pereira Vas.  She comes from a family of 5 children – 3 girls and 2 boys.  Amongst them, three are religious viz. Rev. Fr. Charles Vas SVD, Mumbai, Sr. Mary Vas CFMFS, Delhi and Late Sr. Josephine Vas PDDM.  Amongst the other two, one is a teacher viz. Mrs. Stella D’Souza, Mangalore and the youngest one is a renowned Lawyer of the Bombay High Court viz. Mr. Pius Vas, Mumbai. After completing her High School studies in Mangalore, Sr. Mary joined CFMFS in Delhi in 1955.  She went to Italy in 1981 and studied Music for six years and stayed there for another three years. On returning to India she joined the Nunciature in February 1991 and has given her service for a long period of 23 years.

Sister Mary remarked that she was quite surprised when she received the news of the award.  She thanked the Nuncio for the same.  She owed her gratitude to the sisters of the congregation who have always walked with her and especially her parents and family members for all that they mean to her.

The other distinguished guests present for the function included Mr. Pius Vas (Advocate, Bombay High Court), his son Mr. Jason Vas (Solicitor), the niece and nephew of Sr. Mary viz.  Ms. Emmy Vas and Mr. Sunil D’Souza respectively.  Also present were Mrs. Shanti D’Souza, Mrs. Lucy and Mr. Peter Gabriel with their respective families.  Also present for the occasion were other Sisters of the Community of Sr. Mary, her Provincial Sr. Ivy and Superior Sr. Lincy.

Mr. Pius Vas, the youngest brother of Sr. Mary spoke during the felicitation programme and expressed his gratitude to the Holy See and the Nuncio and heartfelt wishes to Sr. Mary.  He recollected the humble beginnings of the family and beautifully expressed as to how the parish from where the family began viz. Holy Family Church has become a reality in the life of the Vas Family, all because of the good works and pious life led by their parents.  The speech was so touching that it made the whole atmosphere in the library of the Nunciature very emotional.

– rons bantwal

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