“Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.” These words of St. Teresa of Avila have been a guide in Jolene DeAquair Gamache’s own life of great service.
For many years, the 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.
Jim Forte, a fellow parishioner who nominated DeAquair Gamache for the award, shared that she is a remarkable example of a true Christian. He added that even after she developed a medical situation that to this day still affects her ability to move around freely as well as her ability to drive — she has never missed a day of work for the church.
“I noticed with all the physical pain she endures to this day I have never heard her say a bad word about anything or anyone,” said Forte.
Father Francesco Francese, her pastor, said that there are many holy and generous parishioners at the Church of St. Mary, and DeAquair Gamache is one of them.
“Jolene is perhaps the most impressive because of her combination of holiness, dedication and compassion, especially among those who are grieving the loss of a loved one,” said Father Francese. “Her contributions to the parish are unique and irreplaceable.”
DeAquair Gamache is a leader in parish service at St. Mary’s. She serves on many committees including Funeral Ministry, Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Park View Nursing Home Ministry, Solo’s Treasures Ministry—which requests and delivers pet food to local food banks—Prayer Shawl Ministry, Sick and Homebound Ministry. She also teaches catechism class and following Mass, she brings Communion to a homebound person by RIPTA Ride van.
DeAquair Gamache is also a member of the Third Order Franciscans. On April 11, 2013, she professed as a secular Franciscan and currently belongs to the St. Clare of Assisi fraternity at Fruit Hill in North Providence. It was her time working with the Franciscans at the former St. Francis Chapel in downtown Providence that really inspired her to serve her church.
“It’s the Franciscan spirit that got me interested in helping,” she said. “You could really see how they were helping people in local community. That really got me more inspired when I was at the chapel and that continued at St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s is a beautiful community. All of the people were so welcoming. For the first time I really got to know people and it has been a wonderful experience witnessing people helping one another.”
She added that it is her Catholic faith that has sustained her in difficult times.
“I find that my ministries really help me because it gets your mind off of that,” she said. “It’s such a joy to help other people so you’re not thinking of yourself. I think the hardest thing for me over the past two months is being home and not being able to be out with the people I love to minister to, but I also remember that a prayer is very powerful. I may not be able to physically help right at the moment, but I can pray for them.”
She credited her mother and father for instilling their own strong faith in her when she was growing up. She added that she is grateful for God’s continued blessings which sustain her in her service.
“It’s really the grace of God that calls us and gives us our gifts in what we become in our journey of life,” she said. “I am so grateful for the wonderful friends I’ve made here. This award is for everyone at St. Mary’s.”
Rhode Island Catholic is featuring 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.