For Immediate Release 
Washington, D.C. May 6, 2015 – Highest papal honor for laity bestowed on National Council of Catholic Women Past President Patty Johnson 

The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, the highest honor a pope can bestow on Church laity for those who distinguish themselves in service, was awarded to National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) immediate Past President Patty Johnson.  

Patty Johnson, currently Chair of the NCCW Spirituality Commission, Past President of the Knoxville Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (KDCCW) and a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Fairfield Glade, received the award on April 23, 2015, at a Mass for the KDCCW. The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal, also known as the "Cross of Honor”, is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a member of the laity by the Pope and is currently given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy.  

The Most Reverend Richard F. Stika, Bishop of the Knoxville Diocese, presided at the opening Mass for the KDCCW Convention, held at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Farragut, Tennessee, and personally presented the award to Mrs. Johnson. “By order of the Holy Father himself, for service to the Church and the diocese and for all of us who just appreciate her sense of leadership… in the name of the Diocese of Knoxville and all the people of the diocese that you have served, I want to say thank you,” Bishop Stika said.  

Also present were Patty’s husband, Shelton, many friends and co-workers from her work in many ministries of the church and as a registered nurse, and members of the Council of Catholic Women.  

“I was thrilled and humbled to receive this papal honor. My Council sisters delighted in my receiving this award and the entire convention was one of celebration. I would like to share the news of this award with my Council Sisters across the Country as it is through them and with them that I have had so many opportunities to serve the Church and to strengthen my faith and hold firm to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Mrs. Johnson stated. 

Mrs. Johnson, now retired from her work as a registered nurse, has been an active member of the National Council of Catholic Women for more than fifty years. 

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Laraine Bennett at or call (703) 224-0990.