Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Minnesota Grandmother Wins Top Missionary Honor

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Minnesota Grandmother Wins Top Missionary Honor

Article excerpt

For the past 30 years, Mary Larsen has been saying yes to anyone who is hungry, sick or just in need. Her We Care project--which she operates out of her four-car garage--provides nearly 20,000 pounds of food to more than 150 families each month.

"We never say no to anyone," said the 76-year-old grandmother from Morgan, Minn. "If they are hungry, we don't care what color they are, or what religion. It makes no difference."

Larsen is the 2003 recipient of the Lumen Christi Award, a national award presented by Chicago-based Catholic Extension for outstanding missionary work in America. Catholic Extension is the leading supporter of missionary work in poor and remote parts of the United States.

Bishop William R. Houck, president of Catholic Extension, is scheduled to present the award to Larsen Sept. 27 at her church, St. Michael's in Morgan, in the New Ulm diocese. The honor includes gifts of $10,000 to Larsen and $25,000 to her diocese.

"Mary Larsen is a shining example of What ii means to live the faith," said Houck, retired head of the Jackson, Miss., diocese.

"For 30 years she has put others before herself," he added. "This is not a job she was elected to do, nor is it one for which she draws a paycheck. Mary provides this invaluable service in her community simply because she cares."

The We Care project actually began more than 40 years ago when Larsen and her family provided food and necessities for the migrant workers on her parents' farm.

A widow, mother of 11 and grandmother of 37, Larsen continues the tradition of generosity with the help of her son, Joe; her sister, Benedictine Sr. …

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