Sister Mary Vianney Ennis, the longtime principal of St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Costa Mesa, received the Mayor's Award on Tuesday night amid a packed Council Chambers and to a standing ovation.
A native of Ireland, Sister Vianney came to the campus on Baker Street in 1962 and has been principal for the last 38 years.
"I am flabbergasted," she said in her brief remarks before receiving Mayor Jim Righeimer's award in front of a crowd of parents, students and supporters.
During Tuesday's meeting, city staff played a short video about Sister Vianney. In addition to calling her the "guiding light" for her school's 4,500 students through the years, it pointed out that she enjoys praying, jigsaw puzzles, keeping in touch with her family in Ireland and Canada, cats and cat-inspired objects.