March 27, 2015

Visiting homeless shelter, having fun with children are part of speaker’s prep for Spirit of Service Awards Dinner

Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Jack Doyle reads a book to children during a visit to the Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis on March 17. (Submitted photo)

Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Jack Doyle reads a book to children during a visit to the Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis on March 17. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

In his journey from being a high school football player in Indianapolis to becoming a tight end for his hometown Colts, Jack Doyle has never overlooked the value of extra effort and preparation.

So it’s natural that the 24-year-old Doyle has followed that same approach as he looks forward to being the featured speaker at the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Award Dinner in Indianapolis on April 30.

(Related: Tickets now available for annual Spirit of Service Awards Dinner at Indiana Roof Ballroom on April 30)

That’s why Doyle spent March 17 folding baby clothes, talking with refugees, playing soccer with children, and visiting with families in a homeless shelter—just some of the efforts of Catholic Charities Indianapolis that will benefit from the 17th annual Spirit of Service event.

“It’s definitely been a cool experience,” Doyle said about his day that included visits to Holy Family Shelter and St. Elizabeth/Coleman, a center that provides pregnancy and adoption services. “When you work directly with people who need extra help, you see the joy in their faces and their thankfulness. It just reminds you how blessed you are.”

Doyle is honored that he was asked to be the featured speaker at the dinner—a role that Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck filled last year.

“Andrew did a great job, so it’s going to be tough to follow,” said Doyle, a 2008 graduate of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis who grew up in Holy Spirit Parish on the city’s east side. “With the Holy Spirit and Cathedral connections I have—and our huge family that’s connected to the Catholic community—it will be fun and exciting.”

He also views his involvement with the event as an opportunity “to give back” to the Catholic community that nurtured him and the Catholic faith that guides him.

“Faith plays a huge role in my life,” said Doyle, the only son of John and Nancy Doyle’s four children. “They always say, ‘faith, family and football’—in that order. I come from such a great, faith-based family growing up on the east side of Indianapolis where I was blessed by my parents. They didn’t make all the money in the world, but they fought to send me to a Catholic school.

“That’s something I’ve always appreciated. It’s a great thing to go into a Catholic school where you have religion class every day. You carry it with you. Service fits into that. It’s great to be able to give back. I’m not saying I do it as much as I should, but when I get the opportunity, it’s fun. I always seem to get more joy out of it than the people I’m helping.”

Doyle has visited children at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. He also enjoys visiting schools and telling the students how he was once one of them. As much fun as those visits are, one was also humbling.

“I have a couple of aunts who teach,” he recalled with a grin. “At one of my aunts’ school, I played, ‘Are you smarter than a fourth-grader?’ with them. They had questions for me. They definitely beat me up on that.”

He also smiled as he played soccer with Ahmed Talib, 15, and Mohammed Talib, 11, who came to the United States in 2010 with their parents as refugees from Iraq.

Still, Doyle flashed his best smile when he talked about getting married in June to Casie Williford, his college sweetheart from Western Kentucky University, where he graduated in 2013.

“We both come from big families,” he said. “It will be a big celebration.”

So will the Spirit of Service Awards Dinner, according to David Bethuram, agency director for Catholic Charities Indianapolis. Bethuram is excited to have Doyle as the featured speaker.

“He grew up and lives in Indianapolis, and he understands the community and the volunteer spirit in our city,” Bethuram said. “He is a great role model of volunteerism. He has volunteered in our Catholic Charities programs, and with many other worthwhile charitable organizations.”

Catholic Charities Indianapolis has strived to improve the community of central Indiana by serving poor and vulnerable people for more than 90 years, Bethuram noted. The agency provides services in crisis relief, shelter, eldercare, counseling, refugee and immigration services, pregnancy and adoption services, and individual and family support.

“Our event is a great opportunity for us to tell the story of the transforming impact that Catholic Charities makes in our community for children, youth, families and adults,” Bethuram said.

Catholic Charities Indianapolis served more than 62,000 people during the past year, regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic background.

“Funding from Spirit of Service supports our programs that lead people to a more independent life,” Bethuram said. “Catholic Charities not only provides for the physical well-being of our neighbors, but gives them something real, something tangible that they can pass along: the beauty of a life that rejoices in Christ’s work and will never be overwhelmed.” †

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