Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team, announced this week that he is donating $5 million to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago in honor of his late cousin, Sister Joyce Dura.
Irsay, a billionaire businessman who grew up in the Chicago area, praised his cousin’s service to others during her time as a religious sister.
“Sister Joyce spent a half-century giving back to others, so with this gift I only hope to emulate my dear cousin’s spirit, grace, and her commitment to our communities,” Irsay said as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Catholic Charities Chicago is the official charitable arm of the Church in the country’s third-largest city, which is home to more than 2 million Catholics. The organization said it serves more than 350,000 free meals each year to people in need.
“We are delighted and honored by the Irsay family’s generosity to us,” Sally Blount, Catholic Charities Chicago president and CEO, said in a Sept. 26 statement.
“Jim and his family’s compassion for those we accompany and serve combined with their vision for honoring his cousin, Sister Joyce Dura, and her life’s mission — it’s all quite extraordinary.”
Sister Joyce, a member of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, entered the convent in 1965 and devoted the next nearly 50 years to her religious life. Sister Joyce served at several medical centers in Illinois in a variety of roles including nursing, social service, and pastoral care. She died in 2014 at age 71, the Sun-Times reported.
Catholic Charities said in light of the gift, the organization’s five-night-a-week supper program at its headquarters in the River North district of Chicago will be known as the “Sister Joyce Dura, OSF, Supper Program” through 2033.
Irsay, who has struggled with mental health and addiction over the years and now runs a foundation to support mental health, was raised Catholic and declared when accepting the AFC Championship trophy on behalf of the Colts in 2007: “As the humble leader of this organization, we’re giving all the glory to God right now.”
The coach of the Colts that year — who led the team to a Super Bowl win — was Tony Dungy, an outspoken Christian and pro-life activist. After winning the game, the team’s late Catholic chaplain remembered the team gathering in the locker room and ending the day with prayer. Though the chaplain normally led the prayers, Dungy offered to conclude it “because of his deep faith.”