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Honorary Degree Citation - Frank Thomas Kartheiser ’72

Frank Thomas Kartheiser ’72

Frank Thomas Kartheiser ’72

Friday, May 24, 2019
Frank Thomas Kartheiser ’72
Doctor of Public Service

Passionate advocate for the poor and homeless. Tireless combatant of racial injustice. Devout practitioner of a faith that does justice.

Frank Kartheiser, you are a dedicated activist who has devoted yourself to improving the lives of those less fortunate. From your early days as an anti-war activist through your 25 years at the helm of Worcester Interfaith, you have put your faith into action, tackling issues at their core and changing people’s lives for the better.

A son of Holy Cross, you came to the Hill in the late 1960s, then departed in the early 1970s to answer your heart’s call to help those in need. Together with Shawn Donovan ’70, you founded the Mustard Seed, a storefront agency that began with helping the elderly, poor and homeless and grew into a full-time soup kitchen and homeless shelter that continues to offer support to Worcester’s most vulnerable people. Years later, encouraged by your friend David O’Brien, you returned to Holy Cross, and in 1988 completed your degree in religious studies.

In 1978, you found your soulmate and a partner in advocacy when you married Brenda Norton, a nurse committed to caring for individuals marginalized by poverty, mental illness and addiction. The two of you worked side by side, selflessly serving those in need until Brenda’s passing in 2007.

In 1993, you stepped into the role that would afford you perhaps the greatest vehicle for affecting change when you became the director and organizer of Worcester Interfaith, a multi-issue, multi-racial, broad-based community organization dedicated to addressing issues of employment, public safety, and education that affect low-income, minority and newcomer residents. You stepped down as director in 2018 but continue to share your knowledge and experience as the organization’s board chair.

But you have not limited your generosity of spirit to Worcester Interfaith. Instead, you have also given of your time with board service to St. Paul Cathedral’s Outreach, the Worcester Community Loan Fund, You Inc., Pathways to Progress, and the Worcester Cooperation Council.

You have sought to inspire future generations as well, joining forces with the Chaplain’s office and the Donelan Center for Community Service to involve Holy Cross students in the Worcester community and founding the Holy Cross Community Leadership Workshop to train youth interested in careers in the nonprofit sector.

Your commitment to giving back has been recognized by your alma mater with the bestowal of the Ignatian Award in 1988 and the Sanctae Crucis Award in 2008. The Worcester Diocese has also honored you, granting you the John Cardinal Wright Award in 2002.

Throughout your life, you have honored the Jesuit ideal of living in solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised and have shown by example the power of the call to be “men and women for and with others.”

That all may know of our great esteem for you and our strong support for your deep-seated commitment to addressing the roots of social problems, rather than simply remedying them, the College of the Holy Cross confers upon you this day the degree, Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa.