FDR Labor Secretary Frances Perkins wins’Lent Madness’ tournament

WASHINGTON — The NCAA’s March Madness is down to the Sweet Sixteen, but Lent Madness has already skipped through the … Continued

WASHINGTON — The NCAA’s March Madness is down to the Sweet Sixteen, but Lent Madness has already skipped through the Saintly Sixteen, the Elate Eight, and the Faithful Four to crown an unlikely champion with a golden halo.

Frances Perkins, a champion of the working poor and the first woman to serve in a White House cabinet, beat out St. Luke the Evangelist to win the single-elimination online tourney of Episcopal saints.

Perkins, a heroine in the labor movement but unknown to many Americans and even many Episcopalians — was not expected to win. It’s akin to Florida Gulf Coast University actually taking the NCAA championship.

The competition — started four years ago by two Episcopal priests as a “whimsical Lenten devotion” — starts with 32 saints and this year prompted nearly 100,000 people to fill out brackets. Along the way, administrators of lentmadness.org post mini-biographies of the contenders, fun facts about their lives, and stories of their struggles and triumphs.

Players formed “a massive online community in which we all learned a bit more about how God works in the lives of people struggling much as we do,” said the Rev. Scott Gunn of Cincinnati, one of the competition’s founders.

Perkins succeeds Mary Magdalene, who last year met Queen Emma of Hawaii in the finals. Episcopal saints — ancient and modern — are considered heroes of the faith in Christian history, as compared to Catholic saints, who are canonized.

Perkins’ Lent Madness victory, announced on the Wednesday (March 28) before Easter, inspired jubilation at the Labor Department headquarters in Washington, which is named in her honor.

“There are 17,000 employees of the U.S. Department of Labor here and abroad,” said spokesman Carl Fillichio, “and almost everything we do she either thought of or envisioned.”

Boston-born Perkins, the longest-serving U.S. labor secretary, headed the department for Franklin Roosevelt’s entire presidency and helped establish a bevy of New Deal programs designed to pull the nation out of the Great Depression and weave a safety net for the working poor and their families.

She can be credited in great part for the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, the 40-hour work week, occupational safety protections and large swaths of the Social Security Act, among other public policies and programs.

“She is an icon for how baptized persons live out their ministry in the world,” said Episcopal Bishop Stephen Lane of Maine.

Perkin, who died in 1965, took her faith seriously, biographer Kirstin Downey wrote in “The Woman Behind the New Deal.”

Her faith “served as a bedrock and a way to seek meaning in life when so much seemed inexplicable,” Downey wrote.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.