Although it is common for Lumen Gentium honorees to receive the award in recognition for their work with a specific ministry within the diocese, there are also several winners each year who are honored for a broad career of service. One example of such a “diversified portfolio” of Christian service can be found in Bill Wray, who will be receiving a Lumen Gentium Award this year in the category of Administration and Stewardship.
Wray, who currently works as the senior executive vice president and chief risk officer of The Washington Trust Company, has provided invaluable financial advice to numerous ministries throughout the diocese, most notably the Diocesan Finance Council and his home parish of Our Lady of Mercy in East Greenwich.
“I have a particular set of skills,” he explains, “and I’ve always tried to find ways to align my professional life with my faith.”
For the most part, this has meant offering the guidance needed to foster financially healthy Catholic communities.
“Running a parish, or a school or a diocese means having to manage a lot of people and a lot of money,” Wray says.
“As capable as our church leaders are in that regard, they can usually benefit from having someone with a business perspective around to offer advice.”
Wray, who studied engineering at West Point and Stanford University, developed his business acumen over the course of a lengthy career as a risk officer — a position which has helped him develop the keen analytical skills required to make what can be very tough decisions.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve helped with was the Bread of Life Consortium,” Wray recounts, describing the efforts of the Diocesan Finance Council to efficiently administer a consortium of inner-city schools including St. Patrick Academy and Bishop McVinney School.
“So many of these schools simply didn’t have the means at their disposal that they needed to remain viable, and it meant making some wrenching decisions. Painful as they were, we did what we had to do, informed by a financial perspective but also with due deference to the educational and spiritual missions of the schools.”
Wray has also advised the diocese in its management of the St. Clare-Newport nursing and assisted living facility and in the creation of a new retirement plan for lay employees.
In his nomination of Wray for the award, Msgr. Raymond Batista (the vicar for Planning and Financial Services in the Diocese of Providence) lauded Wray’s “loyal service and financial acumen,” saying that “he has offered outstanding support and counsel to the activities of both diocesan administration and his home parish.”
In his capacity as a trustee for Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Wray has helped to guide the financial development of both the church and the school attached to it.
“Every parish is a corporation,” he explains. “They face the same kinds of challenges any business would face, though the course of the special mission of the parish has to be always taken into account.”
According to Father Bernard Healey, the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, succeeding in this mission would be difficult without the help of committed parishioners like Wray.
“His steady hand and knowledge have provided me and the parish finance council with wise guidance regarding stewardship,” Father Healey says. “He has always been readily available to assist in any way and so generous in his support of the parish and the Church.”
William is not the only Wray to serve the community at OLM; his wife Nancy works as a parish sacristan.
“For many years Nancy was there every day for every Mass. She’s the reason why I first became involved in parish service, and she remains an inspiration for me in my faith life,” Wray says of his wife.
The couple, who have three children and seven grandchildren together, also involved with various other charities throughout the state, including the Providence Performing Arts Center and Year Up Providence.
Ultimately, Wray describes his service as being simply the articulation of his professional values into his spiritual life.
“It’s been rewarding to use my private sector experience to serve the Church,” he explains. “I love being able to use my talents to help both my parish and the diocese.”
— AWARDS BANQUET —
The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 15.
Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support Diocesan Youth Ministry — are asked to register online at dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards.
For more information, please call 401-277-2121.