It is difficult to fit Marion Inserra into a specific category for the Lumen Gentium Award because of the many ministries she has served with not only within her parish but within the local community as well.
Marion was married to her husband Russell (Russ) for more than 64 years until his passing in 2011. Together they raised 11 children, all highly successful in their fields of endeavor, including their son, John, who is an ordained priest in Connecticut.
Deacon Stephen R. Cote, who first met the couple through the Marriage Preparation team at Immaculate Conception in Westerly, where she is a parishioner and volunteer, noted that he knew early on that Inserras’ marriage was a sacrament of service to all who came into their lives.
“Their experience, knowledge and loving nature had a tremendous positive impact not only the engaged couples, but to the team members as well,” said Deacon Cote. “They were always warmly received and without a doubt they were true role models as to what Christ-centered marriage should look like.”
An individual who nominated Marion explained that she and Russ truly practiced what they preached, always leading by example. For many years, they served together in ministries, and even after Russ’ passing, Marion continued to serve with great zeal.
“She continues to set the standard by emulating Christ’s unconditional love and reaching out to the ‘least of our brothers and sisters,’” the nomination said.
Some of her accomplishments include serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, participating in a holy hour every week at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Immaculate Conception Church, serving as president of the parish seniors group for nine years, and as a member of the Parish Council and Legion of Mary, as well as volunteering in the parish office.
Her most recent role is as a member of the local Saint Vincent DePaul Society (SVDP), where she helps the less fortunate get the assistance they need. She has demonstrated her leadership abilities by having established the local SVDP Food Pantry at Immaculate Conception Church more than 20 years ago, which she still manages today.
“It is my favorite ministry,” she said. “It makes me feel so good to know it is still thriving and helping people. You get to know the people coming in. By visiting clients I realized that they could always use food. One of the Gospel messages that really has always spoken to me, and to Russ as well, was when Jesus says, ‘when you feed the hungry or clothe the naked, it is me you are doing it for.’ I felt I did what I could to help.”
With humility, and never for the glory, Marion continues to truly live the Gospel coupled with time in quiet prayer.
“It is the spiritual life that leads you to the other things you want to do,” she said.
In discussing those in her life who have deeply inspired her to a life of service, she looked to Dorothy Day, who was well known for being a voice for the poor, but more closely, she has always been encouraged by her beloved husband.
“It was Russ who brought me back to the church. He was a big influence in my life. We didn’t have a lot of money, so one way to help the church was to do whatever we could. If you don’t have money, use your talent, whatever it is. We thought we had something to offer.”
Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will feature profiles of the winners of the diocese’s 2018 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 16. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support Diocesan Hispanic Ministries — are asked to register online at www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.