LEFT: Anthony and Evelyn Messuri provided hope and a loving home for almost 400 children, many of whom had special needs.
RIGHT: The height chart on the cabinet doors in the Messuri’s kitchen tells the story of the many children they embraced.
"Parents of Ten – and Hundreds More"
Anthony and Evelyn Messuri of Caldwell, Idaho, were the first married couple to receive Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award. They were honored for their unique brand of lay ministry and evangelization: They lived their faith by helping children in the most literal sense. When they received the award in 2002, they had been married for 56 years and had eight biological children and two adopted children. But, they never shied away from opening their doors to others, caring for almost 400 foster children in their home over the years.
Their outreach to children was inspired by their fourth daughter, Mary, who suffered permanent brain damage due to encephalitis in infancy. Mary’s needs gave them a heightened awareness and compassion for children like her – children who might need special attention and additional resources. Their home was often filled with as many as fifteen children at a time, making events like Christmas morning a flurry of wrapping paper, toys and youthful exuberance. Said their son and seventh child, Tony Jr., “My parents’ attitude was: Everybody needs a home and everybody needs to be loved. There’s always room for one more.”