Reverend Edward Slattery (left), then president of Catholic Extension, and Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (center), present the
1990 Lumen Christi Award to Brother Thomas Pettite. At right are Bishop John Elya and Archbishop Ignatius Ghattas of the Eparchy of Newton.
“The Greatest Poverty in Our Country is Spiritual Poverty”
Upon receiving Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award in 1990, Brother Thomas Pettite, a Melkite Greek Catholic, said, “Charity should always lead to Christ, who gave us the greatest example of love to follow.” Brother Thomas followed this example of love in his mission to serve the homeless in the mill town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. He spent nearly a decade feeding, clothing and providing shelter for those without in Lawrence, feeling a strong calling to reach out to people on the edges of society.
Although his focus was on meeting material needs, he also believed that the “greatest poverty in our country is spiritual poverty. . .there are children, as well as adults, who do not know the name of Jesus, who do not know what Christmas is really about, who do not know the great hope that comes with the Resurrection.” Brother Thomas made it his mission to fill that void and make the poor feel welcomed and embraced by the Church.