Lumen Gentium Award Winner Profiles

Saints John and Paul parishioner honored for dedication to parish, larger community

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Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will feature profiles of the 15 winners in the 10 categories of the diocese’s 2016 Lumen Gentium Awards. The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 18. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will benefit St. Martin de Porres Multi-Purpose Center and Fruit Hill Day Care for Seniors — are asked to register online at www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.

PROVIDENCE — John Ricci was shocked to learn that he would be the recipient of a Lumen Gentium Award in Parish Service. The parishioner of Saints John and Paul Parish, Coventry, has participated in numerous ministries over the years, contributing his compassion and dedicated service to both the parish and larger communities.

“I cannot think of anyone more dedicated to Christ and to the Church,” said Father Paul Grenon, pastor at Saints John and Paul, who nominated Ricci for the award.

In addition to chairing parish fundraisers, chaperoning youth group events and visiting the sick, Ricci and his wife, Charleen, have served for many years as catechists in the parish’s religious education program. The couple often teaches as a team, demonstrating the vocation of marriage as they pass on the faith to younger generations.

“We felt that it would help them become strong in their faith, knowing that husband and wife can do things like that together,” said Ricci.

Some of Ricci’s most important work takes place not in the church but at the ACI state intake center, where every Monday he participates in prison ministry with the inmates. As part of his ministry, Ricci organizes a bible study and serves as a mentor to inmates.

“I am guided by the Holy Spirit every Monday. I like to work on the strengths of the faith to help these prisoners get out of prison,” he said.

When asked about the impact of his ministry, Ricci recalled a day earlier this year when he ran into a former inmate at his grandson’s basketball game. The individual, who had been released from prison several months earlier, approached Ricci to tell him how large a role his faith has played in keeping him from returning to prison.

“One word can change their whole lives,” said Ricci.

He attributes all that he has accomplished to his faith in God, explaining that his passion for participating in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy has guided his ministry over the years.

“The charitable works of mercy have been very important to me,” he said. “I do this work for God and I don’t really want any recognition for it.”