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St. Joseph Villa hails service of the Monsons

President Thomas S. Monson said one of the best compliments ever paid to him came from fellow LDS Church general authority President James E. Faust.

"He had become aware of something I had done," President Monson said. "And he said to me in private . . . `You are the most charitable, caring person I've ever met. But I'll spend the rest of my life wondering why you're not a Democrat.'"I said, `Jim, no one political party has a monopoly on kindness and charity.

"We're all in it," President Monson said.

For their charitable disposition, President Monson, first counselor in the LDS Church First Presidency, and his wife of nearly 50 years, Frances J. Monson, were given the Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award by the Friends of St. Joseph Villa during a benefit banquet and auction Wednesday night at Little America Hotel.

"We are highly honored to be the recipients of your lovely expressions tonight," President Monson said. "I feel very humble in my heart. I would rather be honoring someone else."

Frances Monson accepted her award paying tribute to the Congregation of Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word who "minister so unselfishly to the needs of the many who inhabit the rooms of St. Joseph Villa."

The Monsons were honored particularly for their service and dedication to the elderly and those in need of temporal assistance. The Most Rev. George H. Niederauer, bishop of the Salt Lake Diocese, paid tribute to the Monsons as "human faces of concern and love and outreach to the entire community here in Salt Lake and Utah" regardless of church affiliation.

"Both my husband and I believe that service to others provides the blessings to the givers as well as the receiver," Frances Monson said. "I perhaps would have been content to perform my service in life by raising my children, participating in the women's service organizations of my church and helping others as my time and energy permitted.

"But because of the church callings my husband has had throughout our married life, I have with him witnessed more pain and suffering, more need among God's children than otherwise would have been the case. If I have been able to in some small way help alleviate such suffering, such need, I am most grateful," she said.

"My belief in life is that our aim is to eliminate the weakness of one man or one woman standing alone and substitute therefore the strength of many working together," President Monson said.

"I always feel better when I've been to the Villa, or I've been to the hospital to see someone, or other places, and have walked out into the sunlight and felt that God was a little closer and all was right with the world."

The Monsons and Bishop Niederauer also paid tribute to Sister M. Ambrose Naughton, a former administrator of St. Joseph's Villa who died two weeks ago of cancer, for her compassionate work with the elderly.

"She was just a wonderful, gregarious, kind, compassionate soul," President Monson said. "She truly exemplified the spirit of an angel living with us, walking with us or, particularly, serving with us."