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Mr. Charles Gardner
Conferral speech for the Distinguished Alumnus Award given at the 2003 Saint Meinrad Alumni Reunion

  Presented August 12, 2003
by Father Richard M. Ginther, member of the Alumni Board of Directors

It is an honor and a pleasure to present the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. The established criteria for this award do not specify whether the recipient be lay or ordained, living or deceased. What the criteria do clearly state is that the individual must have provided recognized service to Saint Meinrad and the Church and, most importantly, exemplified the Gospel values in his or her life and work.

As a member of the selection committee, I can assure you that our task was not an easy one. Many of Saint Meinrad’s Alumni have made great contributions to Saint Meinrad and the Church. The field of nominees was quite large and filled with Alumni who are very deserving of this special recognition. But, we are pleased with the results of our prayerful discernment and discussion, and now honor three of Saint Meinrad’s Alumni.

We will be presenting the awards in alphabetical order.

I would like to call on Archabbot Lambert to assist in presenting the awards.

“Music is the language of the spirit.” These words were uttered nearly a decade ago by the first of our recipients, a manCharlie Gardner who has been blessed with many gifts from God – but most remarkably, with great musical talent. He has not ignored this talent, but, rather, he has generously shared it with many. He has given his life not only to serving the Church he so dearly loves, but he also has shared this gift here at Saint Meinrad in many ways. This man is Mr. Charles P. Gardner.

Born in 1947 to Ray and Ginger Gardner, Charles (as his mother is wont to call him) has one brother, Gene. After 8 years at St. Andrew Grade School (where he learned piano and organ, and sang innumerable Requiem Masses), and 4 years at the Latin School (where he distinguished himself as a student and a budding liturgical musician), Charlie Gardner began his relationship with Saint Meinrad as a college student, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969. His passion for sharing the Good News through the “language of the spirit” led him to continue his studies and earn a Master of Arts in Music from Butler University in Indianapolis.

Charlie’s service to the parishioners of Little Flower Church in Indianapolis as Music Director began his professional work for the Church. Since then, Charlie has instructed hundreds of people in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in liturgical music. He has trained hundreds of cantors for the parishes of the Archdiocese and conducted workshops in liturgical music and the reform of the liturgy for over 25 years. He has authored numerous articles for NPM magazine, “Worship” and “Assembly.” Past Archdiocesan positions include Director of the Office of Worship and the Archdiocese’s Secretary for the Secretariat of Spiritual Life and Worship.

Charlie is currently a member of the Management Council for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, serving as both Worship Secretary and Liturgical Music Director. And just this month he began serving as Director of Liturgical Music for Marian College in Indianapolis.

Charlie also gives of his time to support other causes close to his heart. He is currently a member of both the Board of Directors of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians and also the Indianapolis chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He is an active supporter of Bread for the World, the Indianapolis Peace Center, and Pax Christi.

While all this work is laudatory, I believe there is something else about Charlie that really speaks to the criteria for our Distinguished Alumnus Award. It is the humble, generous, servant manner in which Charlie takes on these tasks. Anyone who has worked with Charlie knows that he truly exemplifies the Gospel values in his life and work.

In his own words, Charlie is a living example of his education at Saint Meinrad. When informed of his selection as a Distinguished Alumnus earlier this summer, he remarked, “What I do as a lay minister in the Church is based largely on the formation I received from Saint Meinrad. I’m an example of someone who’s benefited from

what Saint Meinrad continues to do in supporting lay & ordained people.”

Charlie continues to give back to his alma mater as a member of the Board of Overseers. He has completed two six-year terms and is beginning the first year of his third term as a board member. Through his time, treasure and talent, Charlie continues to give back to Saint Meinrad.

Charlie and his wife of 32 years, Dianne, are the proud parents of three married children – Christine, David and Jonathan. They are also exceptionally proud of the newest member of their family, grandson Jacob. (If you could see Jacob in Charlie’s arms and see the expression on his face as he holds his grandson, you would really know just how proud he is of this newest life in the Gardner family!) We are pleased to have some of Charlie’s family with us this evening as we honor him. Dianne, Jonathan and Megan, thank you for joining us tonight.

As Charlie blesses others with his love of music and his extraordinary talent in his chosen vocation, he makes us proud as fellow Alumni. And as Alumni of Saint Meinrad ourselves, when we hear the accolades of one of our own, this truly is “music to our ears.”

Other recipients in 2003:

Monsignor Jerome Neufelder
Father J. Lawrence Richardt
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