Sunday, July 16, 2006

How about this?

Lord’s beggar – 90-yr.-old Catholic will serve poor until ‘God calls me’

By John Shaughnessy

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (The Criterion) – At 90, Lucious Newsom hitches up his blue bib overalls and climbs into his white van, preparing to continue his work as “the Lord’s beggar for the poor” – a role he has served for 18 years in Indianapolis.

Pulling the van away from the curb, the retired Baptist minister-turned-Catholic waves goodbye to some of the 89 Hispanic families who have just spent the last 30 minutes filling their laundry baskets and milk crates with free tomatoes, onions, peppers and other vegetables – produce that Newsom begged for and collected from an Indianapolis company shortly after he awakened at 4:15 a.m. on this sunny, steamy morning.

Now, as a gold crucifix bounces around his neck – a gift from the families he has just helped – Newsom weaves the van through the city’s near-westside, heading toward a place that he views as a beacon of hope and promise in an area scarred by poverty, crime and drugs.

The place is called “Anna’s House,” a clinic and learning center that will offer food, dental care, medical help and educational services, including tutoring and computer training for children.

Scheduled to open on July 29, Anna’s House is Newsom’s dream to make a lasting difference in the lives of people who struggle against the odds. The house is named in honor of Anna Molloy, a 10-year-old blond-haired, brown-eyed member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, who helps Newsom feed the poor from her wheelchair.

“I named it for her because of her hard work and her love of Jesus,” Newsom says. “She’s on oxygen all the time, and she still keeps coming out to help me.”

Newsom parks the van and walks across the street toward Anna’s House.

“People have come together,” he says, his face beaming. “They said, ‘I’ll pay for the siding. I’ll pay for the plumbing. I’ll pay for this and that.’ It’s more than what I hoped for. It’s more than what I dreamed.”