May 9, 2014

Andrew Luck shares team approach to serving others

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck talks about how each us is called to serve others. Luck was the keynote speaker at the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 30. (Submitted photo by Rich Clark)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck talks about how each us is called to serve others. Luck was the keynote speaker at the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 30. (Submitted photo by Rich Clark)

By John Shaughnessy

As he continues his preparation for the next football season, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck focuses on the two challenges that head coach Chuck Pagano gave each of his players for the off-season:

“His off-season message has always been two-fold,” Luck said during his talk at the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on April 30.

(Related: Spirit of Service honorees help transform lives of others)

“One, ‘Imagine hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, the trophy you win for winning the Super Bowl.’ It’s a powerful image.

“The second part, he asks us a question, ‘How are you serving each other? How do you serve your teammate? What are you doing to make your teammate better?’ ”

For Luck, those questions are not just for him and his teammates, but for every person in terms of their service to others.

“Anybody and everybody can serve,” he noted during the fundraising event for Catholic Charities Indianapolis at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. “There is no age limit. There is no distinction of where you come from, who you are, the color of your skin. We are all called to serve. We all have an obligation to serve one another.”

Luck appreciates how that message of “serving each other” also extends off the field for the Colts’ players.

“Guys on the team take it out to the rest of the community. I know I get a sense of pride every Monday when I walk by the community board outside our locker room. On it, there are pictures of Colts in the community—at elementary schools, clothing drives, food drives, hospitals, libraries—trying to touch as many people as possible, especially children.

“We talk about this a lot in the locker room. The conversation always turns to how much of an effect the kids really have on us.”

Luck makes his best connections at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where he visits patients, helping them with their homework and science experiments.

He told the audience of nearly 600 people how the children affect him near the end of a season when he sometimes whines about the aches and bruises that come with playing football.

“You go up to the cancer ward, and you talk to the first kid and the family, then the next kid and the family, and the next kid and the next kid. By the end of it, you’re admonishing yourself to get your act together. The issues you’re dealing with pale in comparison to the real crises of real people in the world.

“But it also provides a lot of motivation, a refreshing perspective. Spirit of service is a two-way street. We’ve all been on the receiving end and, I hope, we’ve all been on the other end as well.”

During the event which also honored six individuals in the archdiocese for their service, Luck talked about how he “benefitted mightily” as a child and a youth from the service of others, including Boy Scout leaders, youth coaches and teachers “who went out of their way to help me outside the classroom.”

The 2012 Stanford University graduate also shared the story of how his alma mater came into existence in 1891. During a family vacation in Italy, the only child of Leland and Jane Stanford died at age 15 of typhoid fever.

“Legend has it that Jane wakes up from a dream and realizes she can no longer do anything for her child. He’s gone,” Luck told the audience. “So she and Leland decided they would make the children of California ‘our children.’ In 1891, Leland Stanford Junior University opened. The university was started to serve the youth.”

Luck also noted how St. John Paul II—who was recently canonized—is “a personal favorite of mine.”

“What an example he was, breaking down boundaries and reaching out to people from all walks of life in different areas,” Luck said. “He’s a great example in terms of service across the board.”

The quarterback closed his talk with this thought: “To be of service to others is for everybody and anybody—anytime, anywhere. It’s our duty as humans to engage in service.”

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin also reflected upon the impact of teamwork, service and popes at the end of the event.

Sharing some of the reasons he’s happy to be in Indianapolis, the archbishop mentioned having a winning pro football team and people who have an attitude of caring for others in need.

“How wonderful it is to work with winners like you,” the archbishop told the audience. “A unique characteristic of the whole community of Indianapolis is that there are so many institutions that are pulling in the same direction for the betterment of the community for all the people.”

Discussing the recent canonizations of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, the archbishop considered them defining figures of the Church and the 20th century.

From a personal standpoint, the archbishop noted that St. John XXIII was the pope when he was a boy, and St. John Paul II was a pope he “was privileged to sit with at table a number of times.”

“Both of these men lived lives of heroic virtue, both of them had their faults, but neither of them gave up. Pope Francis said during his homily at the canonization Mass that St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, touch his torn hands and his pierced side.

“Isn’t that what Catholic Charities does, with your support—touch the torn hands, the ravaged souls, the damaged spirits of so many of the poor and the vulnerable? They touch them, and through that touch, God heals. This is what we try to do every day in Catholic Charities—to see Jesus in the person who suffers, struggles and comes to us for help.”

The work of Catholic Charities Indianapolis in transforming the lives of the 48,000 people the agency helped last year shows that “life is not a spectator sport,” the archbishop told the audience.

“It’s a team sport. It’s a team effort. For your help, for your kindness, for your generosity, in the name of all those poor who will be touched, thank you.” †

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