(Aug. 11, 1915-Aug. 8, 2008). Born August 11, 1915, in Memphis, Tennessee, Lucious Newsom arrived in Indianapolis in 1989 to help with the annual Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Seeing a need to help beyond one weekend a year and disappointed that his fellow ministers felt no urgency to do more, Newsom, a retired Baptist preacher, began looking for ways to aid those in want. In doing so, he found a second career in Indianapolis.

His wife Lorena initially objected to Newsom’s compulsion to launch a ministry to feed the needy in the Hoosier capital. She implored him to enjoy the boat his former congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee, had given him, to go fishing, and to spend time with their grandchildren. After several days, she came around to the idea, and Newsom set out for Indianapolis to do what he believed God was calling him to do.

After driving around I-465, Newsom eventually found his way to the Stringtown neighborhood on the city’s near westside. Assembling a group of volunteers, Newsom began making the rounds in Indianapolis asking (and at times, begging) for food from grocery stores. Starting small, with the “pantry” being little more than a few tables in a parking lot, but eventually branching out to other locations, Newsom established a system where people could come and get fruits, vegetables, salads, breads, and meats. He allowed those who came for help the dignity of selecting their own food—a practice that was not common at the time. Newsom became known as a “beggar for the poor” and “the Lord’s delivery man,” often working 14 hours a day and always insisting that the food given was in good enough condition to be eaten by his helpers’ own families.

Lucious Newsom separates a bunch of bananas.
Lucious Newsom setting up food donations, n.d. Credit: John Shaughnessy, The Criterion View Source

By the early 2000s, Newsom became determined to open a clinic and learning center near downtown Indianapolis that would also serve as a permanent home to the pantry. Newsom had long gone beyond merely making sure the pantry was supplied with food, often getting to know those he aided, especially children, and making sure they had things they needed. Over the years, he had developed a close relationship with Anna Molloy, a young girl who often came to help at the pantry alongside her family. She volunteered despite having a rare genetic disorder that eventually claimed her life. Newsom named the permanent location “The Lord’s Pantry at Anna’s House,” in her honor. The facility opened its doors in 2006, about two years before Molloy died.

Many of the people who aided the retired Baptist minister in his efforts to help those in need were Catholic. Over time, Newsom decided to convert to Catholicism as well, becoming a member of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Catholic Church on the city’s southeast side. He died at the age of 93 following a battle with cancer. His funeral at Saints Peter And Paul Cathedral was standing room only.

The Lord’s Pantry continues to serve those in need.

Revised June 2022

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