June 1, 2018

Architect builds on foundation of faith

By John Shaughnessy

Derry CondonYears have passed, but Derry Condon still smiles when he recalls his oldest child’s reaction after spending a week at Camp Rancho Framasa in Brown County.

With all the fun of the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) camp fresh in his mind, Ryan Condon looked at his father and implored, “Dad, can I go back next year?”

That joy for the camp—and the desire to return to it—have also marked Derry Condon’s life for the past 35 years. And the Indianapolis architect’s longtime dedication to creating and improving the camp’s facilities have earned him the CYO’s highest honor this year, the St. John Bosco Award.

“I feel better when I’m down there,” says Condon, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis. “I’m always welcomed by the people. There’s something about going down there and seeing the kids. They meet a lot of new friends and have a lot of new experiences.”

Condon has contributed to that experience through his architectural work.

The father of three has overseen the renovation of cabins, the chapel and the pavilion. The grandfather of four created a new campfire area that accommodates 250 people. Condon has also designed a new office building and maintenance facility at the camp. Then there is his favorite project.

“We designed and built an outdoor space of worship. It’s on the side of a hill, surrounded by trees. It’s a great place for Mass for the campers. It’s not a church; it’s God’s space in nature. We designed it and created walkways to it so kids in wheelchairs could get to it. That’s one of the best things I did down there.”

Another project that has special meaning to Condon is the endowment that his sister and brother-in-law—Billie and Dr. David Bankoff—started so children in need could attend the camp. It’s called the Ryan Condon Campership Fund, in honor of his son who died in 2004.

“Kids from the inner city who can’t afford to go can go now.”

Condon’s latest effort at the camp focuses on creating a space for meditation in an area that has a stream nearby, an area that will feature a life-sized statue of the Blessed Mother.

“There’s something about CYO camp that really brings out my Catholic faith. When I’m working on these projects, I feel better. I’m doing something that needs to be done.” †


Related story: Archbishop salutes CYO honorees for living ‘the joy of the Gospel’

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