In one of his books the great Harry Mark Petrakis described the guile of his mother, the wife of a parish priest with little means, in stretching their own meagre food budget to accommodate all sorts of needy guests at their ever-expanding table with the many leaves and spending so many sleepless nights tending not only to her own children but being a “mother of the church” to so many others in need.
Our cover story this issue is on a remarkable woman in her own right: Paulette Poulos, who began serving the church while still a teenager and has carried on tirelessly ever since. “I’m not someone looking for accolades or for glory: I don’t need any of that. I had the best all these years. I am looking to serve and to contribute something so now that I am finishing 50 years in the Archdiocese I would hope that one little small drop of something good that I did would be remembered so that other people would follow in the same course.”
She deals with millionaires and billionaires to raise money for the church, but she also serves in soup kitchens, and she says her greatest pleasure is to see the young men her own Leadership 100 funded with scholarships get ordained as ministers and go out into the community to continue the good work.
“I was honored recently by a Greek American professional women’s group and I didn’t want to accept the honor but they insisted” she says. “And it was very embarrassing for me and it was a beautiful event but it was embarrassing for me because I thought to myself, here they are thanking me and presenting me with this award for doing something that I love to do. I love this, I feel it, I enjoy it.”
She says, “Personally, the one thing I give is my faith and my dedication, because I think that motivates people when they see that you are genuine, and especially the young people when they see that you are real and you really believe in what you preach and what you practice. I am not a member of the clergy and I did not go to the theological school, but I can tell you truthfully that my faith is very deep and that’s what keeps me going. People say you’re always smiling and I say, well, when you do something you love it just comes naturally.”
Doing good and being good to others is granted only to the very big at heart and the rest of us will forever be grateful for their selflessness and public service.