September 25, 2015

Catholic values are at the heart of award recipients who strive to make a difference in lives of others

By John Shaughnessy

Tom Dale couldn’t stop smiling as he watched the joy of the boys putting on their new football equipment and getting the awe-inspiring experience of practicing at the indoor facility of the Indianapolis Colts.

As a volunteer with the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies (MTCA), Dale wanted to give the children from the archdiocesan center-city Indianapolis schools the same opportunity to play sports in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) program that had so positively influenced his life and the life of his six children.

After all, Dale knew that studies showed that being involved in sports and other activities helps children in a number of ways, including academically and spiritually.

Yet on the following day, Dale’s expression changed from smiling to serious when he noticed that half the boys who showed up for practice didn’t have a shirt covering their football pads. For Dale, it was a small but telling moment.

“It told me that a father figure wasn’t there in their lives,” Dale recalls about that moment in 2010. “That’s what kept me going in trying to help them. They needed a father figure. They needed structure, just like I did when I was growing up. They needed someone and something to help them develop their character and help them out of poverty.”

That combination of a grand vision of how to make a difference and the commitment to the small details to make it happen has long marked Dale’s life. That combination has also defined the lives of Dave Gehrich and Drs. Frank and Marianne Price.

That’s why these four individuals from the archdiocese will be honored during the Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards dinner in Indianapolis on Oct. 26.

Dale and Gehrich will receive Career Achievement Awards, while the Prices will be honored with the Community Service Award. (Learn more about the event here)

Here are the stories of the recipients.

Dave Gehrich

Dave GehrichIn his tireless efforts to lead youths to a closer relationship with God, Dave Gehrich always shares this perspective: “Where we are is not who we are.”

For Gehrich, those words are not only meant to reassure teenagers who are struggling in one way or another, they’re also an opportunity for him to share his own struggles in life and faith.

He admits that he was “a complete knucklehead” as a youth. And he talks about how far he had strayed from his Catholic faith as an adult. Indeed, the father of three shares how he would drive his then-small children to religious education classes on a Sunday morning, walk them to the classroom, and return to his car in the church parking lot, where he would read the newspaper instead of attending Mass.

Then one Sunday while he was away on business, his wife Angie—a non-Catholic at the time—took her children to Mass, stayed to pass the time, and decided she wanted to become a Catholic.

“On Holy Saturday night, I was sitting in the church and watching the most important person in my life get baptized,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘You’re a real idiot. You’ve been raised in the Church, and you didn’t do anything with it.’ Watching her, I asked God to use me.”

For the past 15 years, Gehrich has served God as a director of youth ministry, currently at St. Catherine 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. The days of being a youth minister are gone. We’re now in an era of being a minister to the youth.”

He has also 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’m 50 years old,” says Gehrich, a graduate of Holy Spirit School and Cathedral High School, both in Indianapolis. “I tried to retire this year from ministry. I wasn’t going to do the football program at the high school and I was thinking of backing away from this [youth ministry], but I was politely told I wasn’t going to be allowed.”

Not that Gehrich minds. The fire still burns to serve God and young people.

“I try to let them know that, no matter what, at least one person cares about them. 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.”

Tom Dale

Tom DaleAfter 35 years of coaching in 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, often raising scholarship funds for students. And he has served St. Barnabas as a member of the stewardship committee while also leading a capital campaign that resulted in a new gym and classrooms for the parish.

Still, Dale turns the conversation to all the people who have influenced his life: his mother who made sure her children had a Catholic education; his grade school coach Dave Hager who built up his confidence; and his wife of 38 years, Joanie, who first caught his attention when they sang in the choir together at the former St. James School in Indianapolis.

“Joanie has been the best supporter of my efforts over the years, helping hold down the fort at home and allowing me to help others less fortunate. Joanie and I wanted our children to be in Catholic schools because we felt we were lucky with the teachers we had—and the formation of our faith.

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

Drs. Frank and Marianne Price

Dr. Frank PriceSimilar to most people who receive Community Service awards, Drs. Frank and Marianne Price have never sought recognition for their contributions to society. Instead, they have looked to the parable of the three servants to guide their lives.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus shares the story of a master who entrusts his money to three of his servants before taking a long trip. Two increase the value of their master’s trust in them while the third servant buries his gift.

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

Marianne also sees a biblical 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.”

An ophthalmologist and founder of the Price Vision Group, Frank is an eye surgeon who specializes in cornea transplants in private practice.

Dr. Marianne PriceThe couple also works together in the Cornea Research Foundation of America, a not-for-profit research and educational organization that they established in 1988. With her doctorate in molecular genetics, 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, where Marianne was the college’s first female valedictorian.

“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 try to model and promote a staff-wide approach of “kindness and caring” toward their patients.

They have also 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. “You want to make sure you’re not burying your talents. 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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