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April 3, 2008

Contact Pat Kerrigan at 608-796-3041 or pgkerrigan@viterbo.edu

VITERBO UNIVERSITY TO CONFER POPE JOHN XXIII AWARDS FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE APRIL 30

LA CROSSE, Wis. – John and Donna Hansen, well-known community volunteers, benefactors, and Catholic servant leaders; and the late Earl Madary, a musician, teacher, and peace and justice advocate have been named recipients of the Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service.

The award banquet and ceremony will be held Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center.

The Pope John XXIII Award is the highest non-academic award bestowed by Viterbo University and previous recipients have included holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, and death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean. The Viterbo University Board of Advisors determines recipients. Last year’s recipients were community volunteer Nettie Mooney and former Wisconsin First Lady SueAnn Thompson.

John and Donna Hansen emphasize faith and values in their personal and professional lives. The Hansens promote a style of servant leadership and financial stewardship that has bettered the lives of many whom they have served over the years.

“John and Donna truly live the ‘Golden Rule,’” said Viterbo president Rick Artman. “They model gospel values by the way they live and through example and I believe it is out of their love of God and their gratitude that they give generously and selflessly. Virtually all they do is done quietly and humbly as they do not seek recognition for their good work.”

The Hansens have been married for 46 years and have five children and 12 grandchildren. They are quick to give God credit for all of their business and personal successes, and are known to reaffirm in each other the importance of trusting God’s will during times of difficulty.

The Hansens specifically focus on supporting the work of pro-life and pro-family causes, Catholic education, Catholic clergy and religious orders and those people with special needs.

The other recipient, Earl Madary, is only the second person in the 34-year history of the award to receive the honor posthumously. His wife, Marci Madary, will accept the honor for the family. Madary died Dec. 16 from cancer at age 42.

His influence at Viterbo was widespread. A talented musician, former Teacher of the Year, chair of the religious studies department, and advocate on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised, Madary was a popular figure among his faculty colleagues, students and alumni who filled San Damiano Chapel for his funeral. Viterbo set up a Web site for individuals to share memories and offer condolences and hundreds took the occasion to share stories and remembrances. “Earl was a beloved colleague, outstanding teacher and musician, mentor, and friend to all,” said Artman. “He embodied our Franciscan values and touched the lives of thousands of students and colleagues.”

Madary was also active in the community, co-founding Place of Grace, a Catholic Worker House. A talented vocalist, pianist, and guitarist, he recorded two CDs, Gilead and Prodigals.

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