A lifetime of parish service

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PROVIDENCE — Salvatore Raspallo, has dedicated his entire life to St. Timothy Church. It was in this sacred space that he married his beloved wife Evelyn in 1957 and raised their children, Diane, David and Stephen in the sacraments. He even had a vital role in its construction as foreman, installing the metal frames and glass windows, doors and the famous cupola. His 55 years of faithful service to St. Timothy’s — his second home — has earned him Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Parish Service.

Among Raspallo’s volunteered time as an adult altar server for daily Masses and funerals, his pastor Father Andrew Messina, shared a long list of distinguished achievements in nominating Raspallo for the award.

“He has been a choir member for 43 years, one of the first CCD teachers in the parish, part of the first group of Eucharistic ministers in the parish; its first Holy Name Society President; he co-chaired a number of activities over the years including pasta dinners, cookouts, musical reviews and dances. He became the pro-life chairperson in 2000, Food Drive chairperson since 2000, currently serving on the parish council, the finance council and the capital improvement building committee.”

Father Messina added that he has also served as chairman of the 50 Week Club, chairman of the Catholic Charity Drive and currently leads the prayer group that recites the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“He is very faithful,” said Father Messina. “He has been a strong and solid supporter of St. Timothy’s for all these many years.”

Raspallo shared that the parish was incredibly welcoming to him when he moved to Warwick. Since then he has always been heavily involved in every aspect of the parish.

“I kid people and tell them that the only thing I haven’t done there is celebrate Mass and hear confessions,” he said, smiling.

When asked what keeps him motivated to serve the church, he said, “I have been blessed. I really have. I came home from the service in one piece and I’ve been able to share all this with my wife. The faith has strengthened our marriage 100 percent. My wife has been my greatest blessing in the service to the church. Because she has been there. When I’m there, she’s there — we are inseparable. We are a twosome.”

Evelyn shared her happiness at having her husband nominated for an award he is truly deserving of.

“It’s happiness for him, because I know he does so much and does it willingly out of love for his parish and for his faith,” she said. “It’s an honor to be by his side.”

One of ten children, Raspallo, attributes his love of serving the church to his parents who formed him in the faith at an early age.

“I had a good upbringing,” he said. “I have been blessed so many times by my mother and father, Salvatore and Elisabetta.”

He also credits his spiritual fathers who have guided him along his journey of selfless service.

“I have been grateful for my 55 years at St. Timothy, for the help and direction of the priests that served here,” he said. “Especially Father Patrick Hunt, Father Joseph Henry, Father James Hamilton and our present pastor Father Andrew Messina. It has been a pleasure and an honor serving these holy and spiritual priests. During this time, I also had the great support from my brothers Father Dominic Raspallo and Deacon Thomas Raspallo.”

The faithful Catholic, who describes himself as a fierce defender of the faith, ultra prolife with a strong devotion of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, explained that he hopes to continue to devote his time to his parish for as long as he is able.

“I intend to serve, especially serving at Mass, as long as my health holds up,” he said. “I am ecstatic, thrilled and humbled and I am very grateful and happy for this wonderful award.”

Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will feature profiles of the 17 winners in the 10 categories of the diocese’s 2017 Lumen Gentium Awards, which formally recognize those who ‘toil in the vineyard’ in service to the Lord, and minister to those in greatest need in their parish or community. The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 17. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support diocesan senior priests, many of whom continue to serve in our diocese well into their older years — are asked to register online at www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.