LINCOLN — More than 900 gathered at Twin River Event Center on Wednesday, May 16, in a sold-out event to celebrate the 15 individuals and groups chosen to receive this year’s Lumen Gentium Catholic Service Awards.
First bestowed by the Diocese of Providence in 2013, the Lumen Gentium Awards honor those who “toil in the vineyard of the Lord,” giving selflessly of their time and talent in service to the church and its ministries.
“What a great event this has become for our diocesan church,” Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who founded the event in 2013, said in welcoming everyone to the awards presentation, which followed the serving of a three-course meal blessed by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans.
“I wish you could have the same view that I have from up here at the podium to see our diocesan church come together and celebrate so much good work and so many fine people,” Bishop Tobin said.
Recognizing Bishop Emeritus Louis E. Gelineau, who was in attendance, congratulating him on the recent celebration of his 90th birthday, Bishop Tobin noted that the Lumen Gentium banquet serves as a “family reunion” for the church in the Diocese of Providence.
“We come together as a diocesan family tonight to honor other members of our family and to thank them for their dedication and for their great work on behalf of Christ and his church,” the bishop said.
The bishop said that the good works that the faithful do are a combination of the human and the divine, and at this time of Pentecost the members of the church family seek the intercession of the Holy Spirit in the furtherance of this charity.
“Tonight we come to renew our commitment to serve Christ and his church. We come to renew our desire to build up the church and proclaim his kingdom,” he said.
Diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Msgr. Albert A. Kenney serves as chairman of the Lumen Gentium Executive Committee, which selected from among the numerous nominees candidates to be approved by Bishop Tobin to receive the award.
“It is my pleasure to be with you tonight as we honor this new group of faithful men and women in our diocese,” he said before welcoming each winner individually to the stage by reading a brief narrative outlining the works of service they were being honored for in categories ranging from Public Service to Respect Life to Evangelization and Catholic Education.
Bishop Tobin greeted Marion Inserra warmly with a kiss on her hand as she came to the stage to receive her Lumen Gentium Award in Parish Service.
Inserra, 91, has served in many ministries within her parish, Immaculate Conception Church, Westerly, and within her local community.
She was married to her husband Russell (Russ) for more than 64 years until his passing in 2011. Together they raised 11 children, many of whom joined her in celebrating Wednesday night.
“Tonight is beyond anything I could ever imagine, just seeing everyone honored for their work for the church, it’s wonderful,” she told Rhode Island Catholic after receiving her award.
For many years, Jolene DeAquair Gamache, a parishioner of the Church of St. Mary, Providence, has served her parish community with joy and love, making her a fitting recipient for a Lumen Gentium Award in Parish Service. She was joined by her husband and loving family at the banquet to celebrate the special occasion.
“It’s amazing. I feel very honored to have so many dear friends here tonight.”
DeAquair Gamache shared that she feels it’s a great blessing that the proceeds from the Lumen Gentium 2018 Awards Banquet will be distributed to diocesan Hispanic Ministries, which provides the Hispanic population of the diocese with religious guidance, support and information on matters both secular and religious.
“Hispanic ministries are a wonderful part of our diocese,” she said.
Michael Krzywonos, who along with his wife Pat and their daughter Kathryn, has been a longtime parishioner of St. John Paul II Church in Pawtucket, is a staunch defender of pro-life issues. He was honored with a Lumen Gentium award in the category of Respect Life at this year’s banquet.
“People ask me how long I have been doing this,” he said smiling. “You just don’t keep track. It has been a calling.”
His daughter Kathryn added, “It’s awesome to see him honored for all of his hard work.”
Father Nolasco Tamayo, director of diocesan Multicultural Ministry, said he was grateful for Bishop Tobin’s support of Hispanic Ministry by selecting this group as the beneficiary of the proceeds from this year’s Lumen Gentium Awards banquet.
“We are going to use some of these funds to help us to defray the expenses of the diocesan committee that’s going to be representing us down in Texas for the national event,” Father Nolasco said of the V Encuentro gathering slated for this fall.
In September, 17 members of the V Encuentro Committee will travel to San Antonio to take part in the culmination of a four-year process of ecclesial reflection and action in Catholic parishes across the U.S.
Father Nolasco said the Lumen Gentium Awards also showcase the great efforts being done in support of the church in parishes across the diocese, which can serve as an inspiration to members of the growing Hispanic community.
“This is a wonderful event and it was a great opportunity to bring the diocesan church together and to recognize those who have made a big difference in evangelization in our diocesan church in so many special ways,” Father Nolasco said.
“We are very grateful because we are learning as a Spanish community about the big footsteps that our parishes and our communities have taken ahead of us and we are encouraged to develop strong leadership and make a nice footprint of our own in the near future in the church and the diocese.”