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Serving the Least of His Brothers
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Serving the Least of His Brothers

More than 270 guests responded to an invitation by the College to honor Bishop Emeritus Anthony M. Pilla with the 2009 Notre Dame College Medal at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights on Saturday, June 6. Bishop Pilla was celebrated as the second recipient of the medal for his steadfast commitment to those in need and his role in building bridges of understanding in the diverse Diocese of Cleveland.

Exemplifying Responsibility: Dr. Roth (right) congratulates Bishop Pilla for being the second recipient of the Notre Dame College Medal.“The purpose of education is ultimately moral. It is to teach what ought to be done and it is to follow the examples of people like Bishop Pilla,” said Dr. Andrew P. Roth, president of NDC, about the College’s decision to present its highest award to the bishop.

“Bishop Pilla exemplifies personal, professional and global responsibility,” Dr. Roth said. “He served and continues to serve the least of his brothers. He knows who he is and he reaches out to help others now. He has the courage and self-discipline to do what needs doing.”

The Most Reverend Anthony M. Pilla served as the ninth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland for 25 years. He was president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops representing the bishops of the United States. He authored several pastoral letters and directed community-based initiatives such as Church in the City and Vibrant Parish Life. He served on numerous community boards and committees including the boards of the Greater Cleveland Roundtable, the Catholic University of America and the former National Council of Christians and Jews.

Last year’s Notre Dame College Medal recipient and chair of the evening, Sam H. Miller, praised the bishop for his commitment to interfaith relationships in Cleveland.
“I have known this bishop now for about 30 years,” Miller said. “He has done more [than anyone else in Cleveland], in my opinion, for making Jews and Catholics realize that the differences between them are so much less than the commonality that they share.”

“Sam has been such a good friend,” Bishop Pilla replied in his acceptance speech. “Together we did try to forge a very special relationship between the Jewish and Catholic communities and I think this relationship has been a wonderful blessing for this city.”

Several years ago, Notre Dame established the Bishop Anthony M. Pilla Scholarship Fund to honor him for his lifelong dedication to higher education and his endeavors to make a Catholic education accessible to disadvantaged Cleveland students. Bishop Pilla's work with Notre Dame has enabled many students to achieve their dreams of a college education. He was presented the College’s Fidelia Award in 1994 for his longstanding support of Notre Dame.

A Cleveland native, Bishop Pilla is a graduate of Borromeo College and St. Mary Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1959. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in History from John Carroll University, an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Baldwin-Wallace College as well as honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Cleveland State University, John Carroll University, Notre Dame College and Ursuline College.

The Notre Dame Medal is awarded to an alumna or alumnus, a friend of the College or a civic leader in the Greater Cleveland community who exemplifies the College’s mission to educate “for personal, professional and global responsibility.” Proceeds from this year's dinner provide financial support for Notre Dame College students during these difficult economic times.

“I am very grateful this evening,” Bishop Pilla said about his recognition. “I am very grateful for Dr. Roth. What a wonderful job he has done at Notre Dame College. He has made a College education possible for many students.”

The bishop added that one of the reasons he accepted the award was that his sister-in-law Mary is a graduate of the College. “If Notre Dame can produce more women like Mary I am all for it,” Bishop Pilla said.

Christian Taske ’07 is the editor and writer at Notre Dame College.