Sr. Lourdes Sheehan, associate general secretary at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been awarded the Holy Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by Pope Benedict XVI.


She received the gold medal Jan. 27 at the USCCB, from which she will retire in March. The medal is bestowed to lay people and clergy who have given zealous and outstanding service to the Church.


The honor was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington recommended Sr. Sheehan, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, for the papal award.


“Sr. Lourdes Sheehan has given exemplary service to the Catholic Church,” he said.


In March, Sr. Sheehan will complete a five-year term as associate general secretary at the USCCB. Previously, she served two terms as the U.S. Bishops’ Secretary for Education.

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Born in Georgia, Sr. Sheehan became an education. She served as director of secondary education, superintendent of schools, and director of Christian formation for the Diocese of Richmond. She served with the National Catholic Educational Association and of the National Association of Boards of Catholic Education.


For her excellence in education, she received of the Presidential Award for Outstanding Service to Catholic Education from the NCEA and the Catholic School Executive Leadership Award from Fordham University.


Sr. Sheehan has also served her religious community as provincial and as a councilor.