May 3, 2013

Lentz ‘surprised’ to receive Catholic Person of the Year honor

Annette “Mickey” Lentz shares words of thanks after being recognized as the 2013 Catholic Person of the Year by the Southside Catholic Business Professionals on April 18. (Submitted photo)

Annette “Mickey” Lentz shares words of thanks after being recognized as the 2013 Catholic Person of the Year by the Southside Catholic Business Professionals on April 18. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

As a mother and a longtime leader in Catholic education, Annette “Mickey” Lentz has always told her children and her colleagues to remember one key point about her:

“I do not like to be surprised,” notes Lentz, chancellor of the archdiocese. “Or as I say to all those with whom I work, ‘Keep me in the loop.’ I don’t want to be caught off guard.”

As she shared those words, the mother of two smiled, knowing that her grown children, her colleagues, her friends and even Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin had conspired to pull off a surprise—a couple of months in the planning—that recently ended with an unsuspecting Lentz being recognized as the 2013 Catholic Person of the Year by the Southside Catholic Business Professionals.

“It was quite a humbling experience,” Lentz noted about the award she received on April 18 in Indianapolis in a room filled with family, friends and admirers.

She then shared how the surprise unfolded.

“My son, Rob, asked me six weeks or so ago to attend a special breakfast at the Colts complex with him,” recalled Lentz, an avid fan of the football team. “When I hear ‘Colts,’ I move gingerly. I asked him what it was, and he indicated he wasn’t quite sure, but Archbishop Tobin was doing the invocation for the gathering. Rob must have called a few times after that, and I kept saying I wasn’t sure—that Thursday mornings aren’t a good day for me to get away from the office.”

Finally, the mother relented to the son. And when she looked around the room, she was delighted to see a number of friends and familiar faces from the south side of Indianapolis where she has long been a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish.

“My friends were there, but I still had no clue,” Lentz said. “I was just oblivious to this whole scheme.”

Then during the course of the morning’s program, two of her close friends, Providence Sister James Michael Kesterson and Providence Sister Judy Livingston, walked to the podium to help announce the organization’s Catholic Person of the Year.

The two friends mentioned how Lentz has served the archdiocese as a teacher, a principal and an administrator for 51 years. They also read a statement from Archbishop Tobin about Lentz, who has been chancellor of the archdiocese since 2009.

In the statement, Archbishop Tobin noted, “One of the great experiences of my first months in Indianapolis has been working with Mickey. She brings to her service a vast experience, professional expertise, an unquenchable optimism and a generous heart.

“Mickey and I go together to all sorts of meetings, receptions and gatherings. It has been my experience that no matter what the occasion, she knows most of the people in the room, and the majority of the participants know her. They also love her. … I am convinced that she wants each one of us to be the best person we can be. Sounds pretty much like what God wants us to be.”

The choice of Lentz was a natural one, according to Thomas Schabel, president of the Southside Catholic Business Professionals.

“We selected her because of her excellent service to the archdiocese and the Catholic community for a number of years,” Schabel said.

The honor touched Lentz.

“I certainly didn’t feel worthy, but I was proud to share that moment with so many friends and acquaintances in the room,” said the grandmother of four.

“It was a typical south side Catholic rendezvous for certain. As I said that morning, this honor was very special. I pride myself on working with a team. And it is these people who make me who I am. They have influenced me in so many positive ways. So by receiving such an honor about my faith and my faith journey wowed me. It is just who I am, so to be recognized for it was awesome.”

At the same time, she did have some words for her son after the surprise was successfully completed.

“I said, ‘Shame on you,’ ” Lentz recalled with a laugh. “He gave me a kiss and said, ‘I love you.’ There is no greater recognition than that. My daughter, Marcy, had just been in town the prior weekend and said nothing, too! They know I do not like to be surprised.”

Still, her smile showed she forgave everyone for the surprise—at least this one time. †

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