Marc Barylo

Marc Barylo

September 22, 2014

Marc Barylo, the driving force behind Catholic Social Services' successful Sign of Hope fundraising campaign for 30 years, is this year's winner of the Kevin Carr Christian Leadership Award.

Barylo, CSS's vice-president of development and community relations, is "an impassioned leader" who inspires his team of community leaders and volunteers, said Father Mike McCaffery, former archdiocesan chancellor, in nominating Barylo for the award.

Barylo, in an interview, refused to take credit for the success of the Sign of Hope, which has never failed to meet its campaign objective.

"I may be the face or the leader of some things being done," he said. "Not one of those things could take place with any kind of success without the grace of God and the help of others."

He paid special tribute to his long-time assistant, Laura Kugler, who he called "a remarkable woman. Any success that I've had is because of her leadership and support."

The Kevin Carr Award, named after the first lay president of Newman Theological College, is sponsored by the college and presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the Christian community.

Barylo's list of activities and accomplishments is long and diverse, stretching back to his days at Archbishop O'Leary High School when he won the most outstanding student award.

He has been a seminarian, house painter, cab driver, board member of several organizations, church organist, long-time archdiocesan master of liturgical ceremonies and tireless contributor to the life of St. Joseph's Basilica Parish.

He has received several honours, including the Western Catholic Reporter's Worker in the Vineyard Award and the Rotary Club Integrity Award.

Barylo, 61, is currently on sabbatical from his work at CSS.

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, in a letter supporting Barylo's nomination for the Kevin Carr Award, called him "an outstanding lay leader and model Catholic."

"Marc brought to CSS an abiding commitment to Jesus Christ, a lifelong experience of prayer, plus a sincere and practical love of neighbour, especially the marginalized and oppressed," MacNeil said.


Sister Annata Brockman, a former winner of the Carr Award and former pastoral associate at the basilica, said along with Barylo's generosity, she admires his ability "to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people."

Barylo said he appreciates the award, especially because of his high regard for Newman College and St. Joseph Seminary, and the key role they played in his educational and personal formation while he was a seminarian.

"I was honoured, very humbled when (Newman president) Jason (West) called to ask if I would accept the award."

Marc and his wife Susan, associate director of catechesis for the archdiocese, celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary Sept. 12.

Barylo agreed the success of the Sign of Hope campaign has been remarkable. "I believe the Spirit of God has been the driving and inspirational force behind every one of our campaigns and that people have been responsive to the Spirit.

"Some years I thought we wouldn't make our objective and then somebody walks in the door with a cheque for $25,000."

When people hear the stories of the poor served by CSS, they respond because they realize they too could have been in the shoes of the poor, he said.

The staff at CSS, he said, carry out a demanding ministry serving those who have suffered from violence, abuse, alienation, loneliness and desperation. "Our staff are the tangible answer to the prayers of the poor."


Barylo said he is also inspired by the courage of the agency's clients who see that while they are going through hard times, life itself is good and their situation can be turned around.

Another of his responsibilities is for CSS's program in the Philippines, which has 15 projects helping the poorest of the poor.

"I literally see the face of Christ in the poorest of the poor," he said, adding that it is difficult to explain what that means. "They enrich you with a grace that you didn't have.

"Spiritually, they are among the richest people I have ever seen," he said, pointing to their hope, love of family and ability to see the good in life despite deplorable living conditions.

Barylo had his third heart attack in June. Although he admits a heart attack is nerve-wracking for his family, he saw it as a grace-filled event.


"There's a gift in having a heart attack. It makes you realize how precious life is and how important it is to live each day as if it's your last."

Every night when you go to bed, you ask yourself if you have loved other people that day and forgiven those who need forgiveness, he said.

Barylo will be honoured at the annual Kevin Carr Christian Leadership Award Luncheon on Thursday Oct. 30 at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre at 11:30 a.m.

For ticket information please contact Lorraine Kasha at 780-392-2450 or order online at