Diocesan News

Homeless Center Named For a Woman of Faith

Dr. Elizabeth Lutas has been called a “saint,” but she says she is simply doing the Lord’s work.

On Jan 16, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens (CCBQ), along with its partners – the N.Y.C. Department of Homeless Services and the N.Y.C. Administration for Children’s Services – celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Catholic Charities Dr. Elizabeth Lutas Center on Fulton Street in East New York.

The center has been open for one year and houses the Brooklyn Homebase Homelessness Prevention Program and the East New York Family Support Center, both of which are geared toward helping families in crisis in the East New York and Canarsie areas stay together and strengthen the family unit.

Msgr. Denis Herron and Robert Seibel assist Dr. Elizabeth Lutas as she cuts the ribbon on the center named in her honor. (Photo by Jim Mancari)
Msgr. Denis Herron and Robert Siebel assist Dr. Elizabeth Lutas as she cuts the ribbon on the center named in her honor. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

To date, the center has served more than 775 families and hopes to serve more than 1,000 in 2014.

“Having my name attached to this center is a beautiful blessing from God,” Dr. Lutas said. “The honor belongs to God because it is His work that will be done here.”

Dr. Lutas, a longtime supporter of CCBQ, has been a doctor of internal medicine for 37 years and a parishioner at St. Teresa’s Church, Woodside, for the past 30. From a young age, she answered God’s call to pursue a career in medicine.

“It clearly was something that was put into my heart by God, and it stayed and grew there,” Dr. Lutas said. “God led me from one thing to another to another, and I really have the most wonderful ministry in the world because I get a chance to show my love for everyone.”

She graduated from New York University’s School of Medicine in 1976 with a doctorate in medicine and honors in cell biology. She is certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Cardiology.

In her career, Dr. Lutas dedicated 22 years as a physician in 15 various homeless shelters in New York City and three years at a community health center serving mostly undocumented immigrants. She attributes this work to the love she received from her parents and God throughout her life.

“It is only fitting we name this program in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Lutas, a woman who has selflessly devoted her career to helping those in need and who is referred to by her friends as a ‘saint,’” said Robert Siebel, CEO of CCBQ. “With her track record of exemplary service, coupled with her extremely generous support of the work of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, we could think of no one more deserving of this honor today.”

At St. Teresa, she directed a homeless shelter program for 12 years in which she welcomed the homeless to the parish and made them feel like family. She always made it a point to speak to every patient or homeless person she encountered about God.

“I’ve always felt that to heal the entire person, it’s not just the physical illness that needs to be healed,” she said. “A person is made up of four parts: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They all intertwine, and if you don’t address each one, you cannot heal the whole person.”

At the ceremony, Dr. Lutas said she was overwhelmed that people from all stages of her life, including friends, colleagues and former patients, were there to support her. While she was the center of attention on that day, she again turned all the praise over to God.

Currently, Dr. Lutas is working in a health center in the Bronx caring for individuals who are homeless and struggling with AIDS. She is also a lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and teacher in the school of religion at St. Teresa.

In honor of Dr. Lutas, CCBQ intends to continue the work of the center’s namesake through caring for those who are less fortunate and healing a person’s mind, body and soul.

One thought on “Homeless Center Named For a Woman of Faith

  1. Hello. I was wondering where I could donate gently used luggage and backpacks. I heard that children taken from the home by CPS need some sort of luggage so as they don’t have to place their belongings in a trash bag for transport. I work for the diocese of Brooklyn and would very much like to help. If you could direct me as to where to bring such donations I would be grateful Thank you
    Christina Higgins