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Fr. Jenkins surprises Philbin

Observer Staff Report | Thursday, November 10, 2011

As 1953 alumnus Regis Philbin prepares to retire from his popular morning show, two Notre Dame faces surprised him on “Live with Regis and Kelly” Thursday morning.

University President Fr. John Jenkins and former Irish coach Lou Holtz appeared on the talk show to congratulate Philbin on his long career in television.

Holtz praised Philbin for the entertainment and joy he has brought his viewers over the years with co-host Kelly Ripa.

“You two have just made a great team, and you’ve had a positive impact on so many people’s lives,” Holtz said. “I can’t thank you enough for all you both have done for this country, for the people, the fun, the joy. A lot of people can be successful, but you’ve helped a lot of other people be successful. I’m here not as Lou Holtz. I’m here on behalf of the millions of people that say thank you for the sacrifice you’ve made.”

Holtz said he is grateful for the relationship he built with Philbin throughout his career.

“When the bank asks me to list my assets, I start with my friendship with Regis Philbin,” Holtz said.

Later in the show, Jenkins presented the host with a statue depicting the Visitation before Jesus’ birth sculpted by Holy Cross priest Fr. Tony Lauck.

“We are so proud to call Regis an alum, and we are so proud of everything you have accomplished,” Jenkins said. “I had to come out on behalf of the whole Notre Dame family to tell you how much we love you and how proud we are of you … We expect to see more of you now.”

Jenkins recognized Philbin’s contributions to the Center for the Homeless in South Bend and other non-profit organizations.

“These people know what a great entertainer you are and how much happiness you bring to people’s lives, but you also have done so much privately and in a low key way to help others,” Jenkins said. “[This statue is] an image of the love and hope you have shared with so many people in your life.”