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Wyrzykowski receives Caritas Award

By James Buchok


Conrad Wyrzykowski receives the Caritas Award from, at left, Wilmar Chopyk and, at right, Shona Connelly of the Catholic Foundation of Manitoba. (Photo courtesy Catholic Foundation of Manitoba)

WINNIPEG — In the Archdiocese of Winnipeg there are many family names that have become synonymous with generosity. One of those names is Wyrzykowski.

On April 20 Conrad Wyrzykowski was presented with the Catholic Foundation of Manitoba’s Caritas Award at the Annual Caritas Award Dinner. Wyrzykowski was described as “a quiet, humble man of exceptional public service.”

Earlier in April the Wyrzykowski family donated $100,000 to the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation in memory of Conrad’s wife Evelyn, an honorary life member of the Catholic Women’s League. Evelyn died in 2001.

“The family felt that as a CWL member Evelyn would have wanted to support the CWLF and made the donation in her memory,” said Alicia Ambrosio, communications chair for the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation. “The CWLF is currently in the final stages of a major fundraising campaign and while we have approached several other organizations and individuals, this has been one of the largest single donations we have received.”

Ambrosio said the CWLF was established in 2014 through the shared vision and joint effort of the Catholic Women’s League and the Sisters of Service. The foundation aims to empower Catholic women to take on leadership roles where they live and work by providing a one-year leadership education program.

Evelyn Wyrzykowski’s service to her church and the greater community, including the Girl Guides, the Interfaith Pastoral Institute, the Ursuline Sisters, couples ministry through marriage encounters and retreats at Winnipeg’s Villa Maria and across Canada, and the pro-life movement. She was known for her care for unwed mothers and others in need who lived in her home for extended periods, and her support for L’Arche Winnipeg, which she helped originate and continued in for more than 30 years as a companion and accompanier.

Among the honours Evelyn received were the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for Community Service, the Interfaith Pastoral Institute Service Award, the CWL National Life Membership Award, the Father Gorieu Lay Apostle Award and the St. Boniface Archdiocese Evangelium Award. Her 35 years of commitment to the Catholic Women’s League culminated in her election as national president.

After Evelyn’s passing, Conrad, a lawyer, established the Wyrzykowski Family Bursary in her honour at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba. The bursary provides gifts for students enrolled in the Catholic Studies program. Another fund was established to give $5,000 scholarships to students who attain high marks in Catholic Studies and have engaged in travel courses, field study, and social learning programs.

In July 2014, Conrad, an alumnus and a longtime supporter of St. Paul’s College, provided a significant funding opportunity for the college’s Jesuit Centre for Catholic Studies. The Wyrzykowski Family Ignatian Scholars Fund was established to augment the Catholic Studies program, which is offered through the U of M’s Faculty of Arts and administered by the Centre.

“The Jesuit Fathers had a profound influence in my life,” said Conrad. “As teachers, their personal attention to try new activities, such as debating and public speaking, gave me the needed stability and sense of belonging to achieve my post-secondary education.”

By the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year, his pledge of more than $1 million would be leveraged to over $1.5 million with the remaining gifts coming from the Wyrzykowski family and the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative (MBSI) through the University of Manitoba.

Wyrzykowski is an emeritus board member of the St. Paul’s College Foundation, Inc. In 2008 he was named Outstanding Volunteer fundraiser by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Manitoba Chapter.

The Catholic Foundation of Manitoba is a non-profit community foundation that has distributed close to $1.5 million in grants over its 53-year history. The foundation was originally created by the Knights of Columbus and, with gifts from generous people, is committed to support Catholic causes and values in Manitoba.

The foundation recently announced it has distributed 39 grants to non-profit organizations throughout the province of Manitoba over the past year. These funds support a range of charitable organizations that care for the needy and underprivileged, educate youth, and promote Catholic values within the province of Manitoba.

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