October 23, 2009

Late Philip Wilhelm to be honored at Celebrating Catholic School Values dinner

By John Shaughnessy

The late Philip J. WilhelmThe late Philip J. Wilhelm, a generous, longtime supporter of Catholic education, will be honored and remembered during the archdiocese’s Celebrating Catholic School Values: Scholarship and Career Achievement Awards dinner on Nov. 10.

Wilhelm, who died on Aug. 28 at the age of 67, lived his life according to the advice he received from his parents, “If you have 10 of something, you need to give five of it away.”

Generosity was just one of the lasting legacies of Wilhelm, a successful businessman in the construction industry who always remembered the Catholic foundation of life that he received at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Indianapolis, Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis and St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind.

His significant contributions to those three schools were exemplified by the way he served as the chairman of a $7 million fundraising campaign for St. Joseph’s College.

Yet his generosity also extended to many other Catholic schools in the archdiocese. A former member of the parish council of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, Wilhelm was the co-chairman of a $2 million fund drive for the parish.

Beyond his financial contributions, Wilhelm also gave his heart and his time to Church ministries in the archdiocese, especially involving the Catholic Youth Organization.

A former president of the CYO board of directors, he received the organization’s highest honor—the St. John Bosco Award—for his many years of service in athletics at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He was the athletic director, the gym manager, and a coach in basketball and football who influenced the lives of countless young people.

He also served as the chairman of Scecina High School’s board of directors.

It’s fitting that he will be honored at the Celebrating Catholic School Values: Scholarship and Career Achievement Awards dinner. He was the chairperson of the event in 1999. Three years earlier, he was one of the first winners of the award when the event began in 1996.

Wilhelm was excited to receive the honor, according to G. Joseph Peters, the associate executive director of the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education.

“Soon after Phil received his Career Achievement Award in the first celebration in 1996, I visited him at his office,” Peters recalls. “On a wall filled with many awards, Phil had a special pedestal made especially for this award. He said, ‘Joe, this is the best award I ever got!’ ”

Catholic education efforts always received Wilhelm’s best, according to many people who knew him.

The premier annual Catholic school event in the archdiocese brings together corporate sponsors in celebration of archdiocesan Catholic schools. Corporate sponsorships are now being accepted. Platinum partnerships for the event represent a $15,000 gift for scholarships. Gold sponsors are $10,000, silver partners are $5,000 and bronze partners are $1,750.

Individual tickets for the event are $250.

(For sponsorships and ticket information, contact Rosemary O’Brien at the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development at 317-236-1568 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1568, or e-mail her at robrien@archindy.org.)

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