Thursday, January 08, 2009

Outstanding citizen

My first post of 2009 concerns what might be my personal highlight of the entire year: The public reception and award presentation for the Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award.

As editor of the Telegraph Herald, I have the privilege of overseeing our First Citizen program, including the selection process, notifying the honoree, a few arrangements and serving as MC at the program. Doing that for 23 of the previous 24 award cycles (I was on sabbatical one year), it has been a great experience to interact with our various winners.

Msgr. Francis Friedl, a 91-year-old former pastor, priest and president (Loras College 1971-77), was overwhelmed with tonight's turnout. I didn't count, but I'd estimate the crowd of well-wishers at 300.

Tonight's audience included former parishioners, former employees, a retired archbishop, the mayor, the current Loras president, former First Citizen honorees, and dozens more.

Msgr. Friedl is a noted homilist -- he's written a book on homilies -- and he showed his stuff with the opening of his acceptance speech, sharing a little story about a town outcast.

With the tremendous outpouring of love and affection he was shown tonight, it's clear that our recipient is the total opposite of an outcast.

Here is the Telegraph Herald's video report (by Tony Frenzel) from the event.

Congratulations, Msgr. Friedl!

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