Couple's hallmark: concern for others

President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, are "the personification of human faces of concern and love and outreach to the entire community here in Salt Lake, here in Utah, and around the world."

So declared the Rev. George Niederauer, Catholic Bishop of the Salt Lake Diocese, as he participated in a program to present President and Sister Monson the Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award April 22. The award was bestowed by the Friends of St. Joseph Villa, a health-care facility owned and operated by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, a Catholic order. Sister M. Aloysius Mannion, assistant administrator for mission services at St. Joseph Villa, also participated in the awards ceremony at a "Hope for the Elderly" benefit at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.Defining an angel as a "variety of messenger, someone who expresses himself in the care and love of God for His children," the Rev. Niederauer said that he felt the Monsons "are also angels . . . messengers of the Lord for the Lord. . . ."

The Catholic leader said that President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, "was one of the first and one of the most heartfelt of my welcomers here in Utah over three years ago, the one I feel most free to call upon when I need to consult on matters that are of concern."

Sister Aloysius said that she arrived in Salt Lake City just two months ago. "It was not long before I became aware of the support and interest that President and Mrs. Monson have shown in our community and at St. Joseph Villa," she said. "Their support of the villa provides continuous assistance in helping us serve the elderly of all faiths. We gratefully acknowledge their role in making our mission at St. Joseph Villa a reality."

President and Sister Monson frequently visit residents at the villa, as well as at other nursing homes and hospitals. They were honored at a benefit banquet for their charitable work, particularly to the elderly.

Upon accepting the award, President Monson joined others who had offered tribute to Sister Ambrose M. Naughton, a former administrator of St. Joseph Villa, who died recently. "She was a wonderful, gregarious, kind and compassionate soul," President Monson said. "She exemplified the description of an angel, living with us, walking with us and, more particularly, serving with us."

President Monson commented on the long association he has enjoyed with many leaders and members of the diocese, as well as of other churches. He particularly mentioned the work the LDS and Catholic churches have done together.

"I feel I'm among friends," he said. "My belief in life is that our aim is to eliminate the weakness of one man or woman serving alone and substitute the strength of many serving together."

He quoted a thought he had read: What is as important as knowledge?' asked the mind.Caring and seeing with the heart,' answered the soul.'

"We cannot be like the man who said, `Pull up the ladder; I'm aboard!' We have to make certain that everyone is on board."

President Monson quoted lyrics from a song he learned as a Primary boy: " `Go, gladden the lonely, the dreary; Go, comfort the weeping, the weary; Go, scatter kind deeds on your way, Oh, make the world brighter today.'

"I always feel better when I've visited the villa or hospital, or have gone to see someone in other places," he said.

Sister Monson, upon taking her place at the podium, said she would have been more comfortable in the background watching others receive attention.

She quoted a famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, who gave a lecture on mental health and was answering questions from the audience. " What would you advise a person to do,' asked one man,if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?'

"Most people expected him to reply, Consult a psychiatrist.' To their astonishment, he replied,Lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person.' "

Sister Monson paid tribute to the Catholic Sisters of Charity and others who minister to the needs of St. Joseph Villa residents.

"When the Savior was here upon the earth, He taught, He blessed, He served. Now that He no longer walks among us as a mortal man, it is left to us to do His work, to minister to the needs of others. He has no hands but ours. May we ever be His hands to accomplish His purposes."

The banquet was hosted by Utah Jazz President Frank Layden and his wife, Barbara.

Rabbi Fredrick L. Wenger of the Jewish congregation Kol Ami offered the invocation. KSL-TV, Channel 5, religion specialist Carol Mikita paid tribute to President and Sister Monson and showed a videotape made from an interview she had conducted with them.

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