This national award was established as Catholic Extension’s highest honor given to a priest, woman religious, or layperson working in America’s mission dioceses. Meaning “Light of Christ” in Latin, Lumen Christi Award recipients have devoted their lives to serving the poor in the most under-resourced dioceses in the United States and to fostering Catholic communities that build faith, inspire hope and ignite change. Since its inception in 1978, the award has been given to a bishop, 14 laypeople, 16 sisters, nine priests and two brothers, totaling an amount of $1.8 million awarded to the recipients and their dioceses in recognition of their work.

Judging CRiteria

Candidates are nominated by their Bishop, and judged on:

  • the impact they have had on the lives of others
  • the ways in which they go above and beyond to serve God and God's people
  • the inspirational nature of their stories

Monetary Award

The Lumen Christi Award is accompanied by a $50,000 grant to support the honoree and select ministries in the nominating diocese.

Nominations and Judging for the 2014 Lumen CHristi Award

  • 38 nominations received from among 91 mission dioceses Catholic Extension serves
  • 28 first-time nominees; 9 finalists selected
  • 102 regional judges involved from across the country for the first round, and 6 finalist judges
  • Over 7,000 people showed their support for the nominees and finalists through Catholic Extension's Facebook page


In 1978, the first Lumen Christi Award was given to a lay woman named Florence Kaster, for almost three decades of dedicated service to the poor in the rural areas of Williamsburg County in the Diocese of Charleston. In an era of high racial tension, the courageous teacher and catechist created teen clubs, conducted prayer services, visited senior citizens, worked with mentally ill individuals and grew the number of African-American families at St. Ann’s parish in Kingstree from just one in 1949 to more than 200 by 1978. Other recipients over the years have included priests, women religious and lay leaders from across the nation.

About Catholic Extension

Catholic Extension uniquely contributes to the growth and vibrancy of the church in the U.S. by strategically investing in poor mission dioceses to unleash the power of faith that transforms hearts, lives and society. Based in Chicago, this national organization provides funding resources to dioceses and parishes to support programs and services investing in people, infrastructure and ministries. This support is given based on need, as well as passion and commitment to the growth of the Catholic faith. Since 1905, Catholic Extension has distributed more than half a billion dollars to communities across America.