For Furtado, giving back to community is part of the faith

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PROVIDENCE — Gary Furtado, president and CEO of Navigant Credit Union and recipient of a Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Community Service and Charitable Outreach, isn’t afraid to show his Catholic faith. Whether at the workplace or attending Mass at St. Mary of the Bay Parish, Warren, his religious conviction and dedication to the community are apparent to everyone he meets.

“I wear myself being a Catholic on my sleeve. Everybody knows it,” he said during an interview at the chancery.

It isn’t just his extensive knowledge of the Catholic roots of the organization he heads that singles Furtado out as a Catholic, though he is certainly knowledgeable about that. Navigant Credit Union, he can tell you, started in the basement of Notre Dame Church, Central Falls, to provide financial services to the area’s Catholic immigrant families. Though the organization has changed as it grew over the years, Furtado said the credit union continues to serve a largely Catholic, often immigrant population.

“Not unlike today where you see immigrants are having a hard time getting financial services, same thing [was happening]100 years ago,” he said.

He traces his own roots to Warren, where he considers himself a “hometown guy.” He grew up attending St. Thomas the Apostle Church and later attended St. Jean Baptiste, where his wife, Bethany, served as organist and soloist for 35 years. Following the parish’s merge with St. Mary of the Bay in 2010, Furtado began serving on the St. Mary of the Bay parish finance council and currently serves as chairperson, a position Pastor Father W. Douglas Grant says has allowed him to lend his expertise in business and finance to the parish.

“His advice and counsel have been invaluable to me,” said Father Grant, who nominated Furtado for the award. “I do not know how he finds the time to share his amazing professional and personal gifts with so many parish, diocesan and community groups!”

In addition to serving on the parish finance council, Furtado volunteers his time with Boy Scout Troop 3 Central Falls, the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club and Rhode Island Special Olympics and is a member of the Pawtucket Rotary Club and Legatus, an organization for Catholic business professionals. He has also served since 2009 as chairman of the advisory board of the Little Sisters of the Poor who serve the elderly poor at their Jeanne Jugan Residence in Pawtucket, a ministry Furtado says is especially meaningful to him.

“I love their mission,” he said. “They do good work. They have devoted their life to that.”

When he is not serving one of several community organizations, Furtado is devoted to his family, including his wife, two children and two grandchildren. The couple raised their children at St. Jean Baptiste Parish, where Furtado says they were close to longtime Pastor Father Emile Roberts and often sat in the choir loft to watch their mother sing during Mass.

Though he was surprised to learn he was a recipient of a Lumen Gentium Award, Furtado said participating in his parish and community family has always come naturally as a result of his upbringing and his faith.

“I think it just happens. I don’t mind helping people, giving back,” he said.

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.