October 7, 2011

Education awards honor people who make a difference

By John Shaughnessy

On Oct. 26, the archdiocese will honor the six recipients of the 2011 Celebrating Catholic School Values Career Achievement Awards.

The awards honor people who have used the foundation of their Catholic education to make a difference in the world.

This year’s award winners are Dr. Louis Wright, Eduardo Parada, Msgr. Joseph Riedman, Glenn Tebbe, and Robert and Ann Steiner. (Related story: State education leader to be keynote speaker at awards dinner)

Dr. Louis Wright

Growing up in the tough streets of Chicago, Dr. Louis Wright knows he could have ended up in jail or dead if it wasn’t for the one constant message that he received from his parents, his grandparents and his teachers at his Catholic grade school and high school.

“They had high expectations of me,” said Wright, a member of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis. “So I had to live up to those expectations, and I did. I constantly had positive reinforcement from them. People need to know that unless someone has an oasis of hope, you can easily not fulfill your greatest potential or your greatest dream.”

When his grandfather died when he was 10, Wright felt so helpless that he had the dream of becoming a doctor—a dream that his college professors discouraged him from pursuing. That’s when Wright relied on a point of faith he learned at his Catholic high school: “I had learned to trust in God, not in man.”

So his dream led him to the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis—a city where he has made a home with his wife of 28 years, DeBorah, a city where he made sure his three children all attended Catholic schools.

He lives his faith, serving St. Andrew Parish as a youth leader, lector, parish council member and extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

He also puts his faith to work in his medical career, emphasizing his care of geriatric patients and starting the sickle cell unit of Community Hospital East for critically ill patients who suffer from that disease.

“There’s a lot of pain,” he says. “A lot of people suffer from a lot of ills. Sometimes they can be addressed with an understanding ear and love. That’s what I try to do when I come to work each day. I try to give patients what God has given me. I think of all the people who have encouraged me and lifted me up. You have to do the best you can with what you have to love your fellow human beings.”

Eduardo Parada

Just a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday, Eduardo Parada still follows the advice that his mother gave him as a child: “Do good things for others, but don’t tell anyone about them. That’s between you and God.”

So he talks about the influences in his life, starting with his father, who died a month before Parada was born: “I look forward to meeting him some day because he left for his children this legacy of love for God.”

And he mentions the example of his mother, who worked as a seamstress to send her six children to Catholic schools, and still found a way to help feed and clothe people in need.

He also glows when he talks about his wife of 43 years, Lois, and all that she does for their four children and seven grandchildren.

As for himself, Parada lets his life tell the story. A native of Colombia, he immigrated to the United States in 1963. From 1965 through 1968, he served his new country in the U.S. Army. After his discharge, he made his home in Indianapolis, where he became a member of Holy Spirit Parish in 1971. And for the past 40 years, he has served as a valuable resource to the Hispanic community that has settled in the parish and on the city’s east side.

Parada has helped prepare Hispanic parishioners for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy Communion and reconciliation. He coordinates marriage preparation classes for engaged couples and provides counseling for married couples.

He regards his greatest honor as being an extraordinary minister of holy Communion who gets to share the body and blood of Christ with others. He also organizes Hispanic social programs, and serves on the parish council and spiritual life commission.

“I didn’t want to accept this award, but I think it’s important for Hispanics to be recognized,” says Parada, a retired financial manager who is still an avid Latin dancer. “I do feel empathy for immigrants. I want to see people happy and help them have encounters with Christ. Any time you have a chance to help others, you have to count that as a blessing.”

Robert and Ann (Funk) Steiner

When their younger son, Tommy, was born with Down syndrome, Ann and Robert Steiner were determined to give him two of the most important gifts that they had experienced in their lives—gifts they had already promised to give their older son, Robbie: the blessing of family and the opportunity for a Catholic education.

“Catholic schools impacted Bob and I so much while we were growing up and in our later years,” Ann says. “It’s a part of who we are. And we wanted Tommy to experience it.”

So Ann spent years attending workshops and writing grants to make it possible for Tommy and other children with special needs to attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in New Albany and Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville. Her efforts spread to help other children with special needs across the archdiocese.

“There is no way to measure the impact Ann and Bob have had on Catholic education in the New Albany Deanery and throughout the archdiocese,” says Joan Hurley, president of Providence High School.

Bob has also strived to provide better opportunities for students whose passions are in the performing arts. He led the capital campaign committee at Providence High School that raised more than $4.5 million for the Sam and Paula Robinson Performing Arts Center.

“A theater was the piece that was lacking for our students to accelerate in those areas,” Bob says. “It’s proven to be very much needed. An awful lot of kids don’t play football or basketball. They love to sing and act and play music. It helps an awful lot of kids come out of their shells.”

The couple’s desire to help not only their sons, but so many other children is part of the extended-family, Catholic school support system that the Steiners believe in and embrace. The couple, married 33 years, met at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind.

“We humbly receive this award on behalf of our family and our deanery,” Bob says. “We are a product of our Catholic environment. Catholic education was so important to our parents and grandparents. We know how it has helped our family.”

Msgr. Joseph Riedman

Msgr. Joseph Riedman has an unusual personal motto: “Blessed are those who do not expect, for they will not be disappointed.”

So he has a delightful reaction to the two honors he has received in 2011, his 55th year as a priest.

First, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him a monsignor, and now he has been named a recipient of one of the archdiocese’s Career Achievement Awards.

“Who said there are no surprises in old age?” says the smiling monsignor, who is 82. “I made monsignor, and now I get this honor. I’m getting more out of my old age than I thought I’d ever get out of it.”

That result seems fitting for a priest who has always poured his heart and soul into everything he has done through the years for students, parishes and the Church, say the people who know him.

Now retired, Monsignor Riedman is remembered for his 17 years as a beloved math teacher, counselor and chaplain at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis.

He is also praised for his work as a pastor at St. Michael Parish in Greenfield, where a building is named in his honor; at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, where he led the building of a new wing of the school and began plans for a new church; and at Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis, where he developed a successful ministry for Hispanics.

“It was the Holy Spirit inspiring me,” says Msgr. Riedman, who has returned to his hometown of Connersville for his retirement. “My whole priesthood has been a good priesthood, even in retirement. I’ve tried to let people know that God didn’t create us for this world. He created us for heaven. I found that when people worked with me, they worked on their faith. That was inspiring.”

So is his life, according to an admirer who nominated him for the archdiocese’s Career Achievement Award: “His leadership, both in and out of the classroom, sets a standard of what a teacher and priest should be in a parish and school community.”

Glenn Tebbe

As a former actor in college and community productions, Glenn Tebbe has a love for live theater, including one of his favorite musicals, Fiddler on the Roof.

“It deals with life, change and people struggling to be faithful,” Tebbe says.

During 40 years of serving the archdiocese and the Church, Tebbe has played several defining roles—a teacher at St. Lawrence School in Lawrenceburg and St. Louis School in Batesville, principal of St. Mary School in Greensburg, the first full-time director of the

Indiana Non-Public Education Association, and his current role as executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference—a role in which he serves as “the public policy voice of the five bishops in Indiana.”

He was a key player in the Indiana legislature’s passage this year of the school voucher program, a program that offers financial assistance to families of certain incomes to help them select a school of their choice for their children. He has also promoted the Church’s positions on helping the poor and immigrants. Yet, he downplays his part.

“In my role now, I’m standing on the good will of the Church and my predecessors,” says Tebbe, a father of four who has been married for 40 years to his wife, Laura Jo. “You really have to do it on faith that good things will happen. And over time, good things have.”

That same approach guided him in his 17 years as a member of the Greensburg City Council, including helping to bring a Honda Motor Company plant to the city—a move that has led to about 2,000 jobs in southeast Indiana.

Tebbe views all his different roles as part of God’s plan for him.

As for a review of his roles, one of the best hangs in his office. It’s a framed poster he received from the community of St. Mary School after he ended 18 years as principal there. The poster shows an adult’s hand holding a child’s hand. Beneath that picture is the word “INTEGRITY” in capital letters and this phrase: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” †

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