A Promise Kept

Local Catholic school worker honored for service in Promise to Keep Program

By Stephanie Dolan 

A lifelong Southsider, Margaret Hendricks has worked and raised a family in the St. Jude parish for more than 35 years. This year, she is the recipient of the Catholic Person of the Year Award.

Director of the Promise to Keep Program for 25 years, she and her husband Bryan have a daughter and 11 grandchildren.

“Being a grandparent is my everything,” Hendricks said. “I never thought I would have only one child but I think God blessed me with the best daughter. And then the best son-in-law. So, I am just able to have fun, host grand sleepovers, plan vacations or just simply be present and enjoy. With grandchildren, while I treasure the time to plan special vacations or events, I also love getting a phone call from a grandchild who just wants to know if they can come over. And they want to know if I have chocolate milk or where am I or say they haven’t seen Grandpa or I for a few days. My life is blessed in large and small ways and I never take that for granted.”

Hendricks is a graduate of Roncalli and over the years she has been active in the Christ Renews His Parish Program along with other youth programs and hospitality ministries.

Margaret Hendricks (photo by Stephanie Dunn).

“It has been a long time since I walked the halls of Roncalli High School as a student!” she said. “But there are some constants. Mr. Tully was there and even as a young teacher, exuded a love of faith and a zest for life that he still shares with the students and community. Friends were important and in hindsight I think I treasure the lifelong relationships and friendships that flowed from my high school years. A number of my friends today are friends from high school.”

Hendricks met her husband at work but Bryan has been very involved with Roncalli over the years.

“He was the girls’ golf coach for 23 years at RHS and in this role, he built many relationships and friendships inside the RHS community,” she said. “But he also grew to respect programs, coaches, teachers and administrators at our other Catholic Schools as well.”

First awarded by the Indiana Archdiocese in 2011, the Catholic Person of the Year Award committee begins anew each spring in finding a recipient for this prestigious honor.

“The good news is we have lots of people to choose from and the bad news is that sometimes it gets hard to choose one over the other,” Catholic Business Network board member Ben Brown said. “We typically put out the names from everybody as we go through the discernment process.”

Brown said one of the biggest reasons this award was created was to honor someone who has had a significant positive impact on youth.

“I’ve had the privilege to work directly with Margaret Hendricks through the Promise to Keep Program for the last three years,” RHS Religious Studies instructor Katie Hoendorf said. “Margaret is a dedicated professional who lives out her Catholic beliefs in all areas of her life. Her patience and desire to walk with others on their faith journey is an outstanding example of how to be the face of Christ to others in our community. Margaret Hendricks is most definitely deserving of this award and I’m blessed to call her a colleague and mentor.”

The Office of Catholic Schools developed the Promise to Keep Program as a pro-active, preventive sexual health model in partnership with St. Vincent Health in 1994. High school teens who serve as mentors are positive role models for peers and younger adolescents. To date, more than 11,000 high school teens have served as mentors in the program. The average age of these mentors and former mentors is now about 31 years old.

“They are living out their faith on college campuses, in the military and workplace,” Hendricks said. “They are coming to the Church to receive the sacrament of matrimony. Many are now parents with children in our schools. These mentors and former mentors have taught the curriculum to more than 115,000 adolescents throughout the archdiocese. The Promise to Keep Program provides a public venue for our teens and young adults to model the Church’s teaching on chastity and sexuality.”

Hendricks was nominated for the award by Terese Carson of Roncalli High School.

“Because of what Margaret does with the Promise to Keep Program she works very closely with the high schools and so that was why Terese recommended her, because she literally has trained a number of kids to be peers moving forward,” Brown said. “Just her impact within that program has been very profound for us in the Catholic faith on chastity. We really looked at her body of work and what she has done over many years and decided she was the perfect candidate we typically look for.”

Hendricks said that it’s been a joy to serve the Office of Catholic Schools over the years and she was delighted and surprised when she was informed that she would be the next recipient.

“But as I accept this award, I really truly feel I am accepting it on behalf of all our mentors and former mentors who strive to live out God’s call in their life,” she said. “Edgar Dale said we remember about 10 percent of what we read and 20 percent of what we hear but 80 percent of what we personally experience and 95 percent of what we teach others. When I look back over the past years, I think that many of our mentors have grown in holiness because they had the chance to teach and witness to younger adolescents about positive choices and God’s desire for our good.”

Hendricks received the Catholic Person of the Year Award at a special event Aug. 30.