October 30, 2015

Spirit of caring, love of faith are evident in award winners

By John Shaughnessy

Before they received their awards, the four recipients all paid tribute to the many people who have inspired their lives.

All four especially focused on their parents, praising them for the sacrifices they made to provide them with the gift of a Catholic education.

That parental example of giving from the heart and giving of your best reflects the lives of the four people who were honored during the 2015 Celebrating Catholic School Values event on Oct. 26 at Union Station in Indianapolis.

(Related story: Value of Catholic schools to country and Church is indispensable, speaker says)

As this year’s recipients of the Career Achievement Awards, Tom Dale and Dave Gehrich have lived that approach to life. So have Drs. Frank and Marianne Price, this year’s recipients of the Community Service Award.

After 35 years of coaching in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), it would have been understandable if Tom Dale stayed on the sidelines as his grandchildren became involved in sports at St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. Instead, Dale signed up this year to become the coordinator of the parish’s football program.

“I’m almost 60, but I wanted to make sure my grandchildren got the right experience,” he says. “Football is one of the sports I really believe in at the grade school and high school level. It builds a lot of character and teaches teamwork.”

This latest volunteer effort reflects the approach to life that guides the father of six and the grandfather of 12.

“There’s a Bible verse [Luke 12:48] that roughly says, ‘When much is given to you, you’re expected to give back.’ And I’ve learned that the more you give, the more you get back in the intangibles.”

Dale’s coaching career has earned him the highest honor the archdiocese’s CYO gives, the St. John Bosco Award.

The 1975 graduate of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis has also been a member of the board of directors of the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies for eight years. In that role, he has often raised scholarship funds for the students from those archdiocesan center-city Indianapolis schools, and made it possible for them to play CYO sports.

He has also served St. Barnabas as a member of the stewardship committee while leading a capital campaign that resulted in a new gym and classrooms for the parish.

Dale offers a simple reason for his commitment to serving children in his parish and in Catholic schools.

“Catholic schools formed me into the man I am today.”

A lesson in caring

Dave Gehrich had that same blessing in his life.

For the past 15 years, Gehrich has served God as a director of youth ministry, currently at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Decatur County. He has also expanded the reach of his ministry beyond traditional expectations.

He uses humor and unusual props—including a shower curtain—when he speaks to teenagers about faith. He also connects with them “where they are.”

“I’m the vice president of a company, I travel a lot, I’m busy, but God has put me in a position to be there for young people. I know nothing about girls’ volleyball, but I go to their games. I go to their plays, their choir concerts. I’ve even been to a soil judging contest for Future Farmers of America. I text with them. I visit them at college.”

He has served the past 10 years as a chaplain/resource coach for the North Decatur High School football team, presenting motivational programs and leading prayers before and after games.

He also leads a weekly religious education program on Wednesday night that draws 200 young people from the small, rural parish.

“I try to let them know that, no matter, what, at least one person cares about them,” says Gehrich, a graduate of Holy Spirit School and Cathedral High School, both in Indianapolis. “Sometimes, they get so deeply dug into a hole they can’t get themselves out of it. I tell them, ‘You have been given everything you need by God to be an exceptional person.’ I try to get them to trust that.

“When young people realize that God isn’t an imposing figure, it gives them a sense of freedom. When you give them the freedom to own their faith, they have an interest in owning it.”

Seeing through the eyes of faith

That emphasis on making faith a guiding force in life resonates with Drs. Frank and Marianne Price, recipients of the Community Service Award.

“We’re each given talents to do different things, and you have to try to use those talents to help people,” Frank says.

Marianne also sees a spiritual connection to the couple’s efforts to preserve and restore the vision of people locally and globally.

“It’s healing,” she says. “Your gifts come from God, and you’re supposed to use your gifts to glorify God.”

Founder of the Price Vision Group, Frank is an eye surgeon who specializes in cornea transplants in private practice.

The couple also works together in the Cornea Research Foundation of America, a not for profit research and educational organization. Marianne is executive director of the foundation, while Frank is the chairman of the board.

The foundation has provided extensive training in cornea transplants for eye doctors from 30 countries. Continuing research and a growing database also focus on improving people’s ability to regain their sight.

“They have surgery, they can see again, and their lives open up again,” Marianne says. “They have the chance to see a sunset again or their grandchild for the first time.”

The Prices also view their lives as a payback for the Catholic education they received from grade school through college, including their years at the University of Notre Dame.

“In Catholic schools, they’re constantly reminding you that you’re part of something bigger than yourself,” Marianne says.

They’ve embraced that belief in leading their family of four children and four grandchildren. It has also led them to join Legatus, an organization for Catholic business leaders. And they have contributed financially to Catholic schools, colleges and their parish, St. Monica in Indianapolis, where Marianne is a lector.

“It’s all so integrated,” Frank says. “Whether it’s with your kids, your work, your Church—you’re always trying to give back. Everything we do comes from the gifts of God.” †

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