LINCOLN — Nearly 800 people gathered for the Lumen Gentium Awards Dinner hosted by the Diocese of Providence at the Twin River Event Center on Wednesday, May 18. The annual awards banquet, now in its fourth year, recognizes local individuals who exemplify the Church’s mission through personal example and service to the diocese.
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“This is a snapshot of our diocesan Church,” said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin during his remarks to those in attendance. “We have people here who are personally involved in just about every ministry and activity of the Church.”
The Lumen Gentium Awards — named for the document produced by the Second Vatican Council — were initiated three years ago as a way to recognize and celebrate the good works taking place within the diocese. The awards are offered in 10 categories and each year honor those who labor toward Christ’s mission in areas such as parish service, education and charitable outreach.
“We do our little part. In the end, it’s really up to God,” said Bishop Tobin, emphasizing the small part each person plays in the overall mission of the Church. “In the end, it’s all in God’s hand. It’s God’s work.”
Each year, proceeds from the Lumen Gentium Awards Dinner benefit ministries within the diocese, continuing the spirit of giving honored in the awards. Since its beginning, the event has raised more than $200,000 in support of ministries serving the needs of children, the homeless and the impoverished throughout the state.
This year, proceeds will go to two ministries that have served as important sources of support for the state’s elderly population, Fruit Hill Adult Day Services for the Elderly, a ministry of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, and St. Martin de Porres Center, a diocesan senior and multi-service center.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans offered the blessing before the meal. Referring to the document for which the awards were named, he emphasized how the light of Christ is present in the actions of those being honored.
“Tonight we gather to honor those throughout the Diocese of Providence and the state of Rhode Island who have in their own way reflected this light to their brothers and sisters in your family,” he prayed.
Following the meal, Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, Diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, as well as chairman of the Lumen Gentium Committee, announced the names of the award recipients while Bishop Tobin presented the awards. Family and friends throughout the room showed their support with warm applause as Msgr. Kenney read a description of each recipient’s good works.
At one table, representatives of the local Latino community cheered enthusiastically for Father Raymond Tetrault, who was honored in the category of evangelization for his work in establishing the Latin American Apostolate to serve the state’s growing Spanish-speaking population.
“We know what he has done for our community and we know that we wouldn’t be where we are if not for his efforts and what he has done for the Latino community,” said Marlyn Batista, a parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Providence, following the ceremony. Batista, a former Lumen Award winner who serves on the Lumen Gentium Committee, knew Father Tetrault from when she was a child attending the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. She explained that some of those in attendance did not even know the priest personally, but wished to show their support nonetheless for a man who had accomplished so much for the community.
“He’s a very humble person,” she said. “Considering all the work that he’s done, you would never know it. He’s just a servant.”
At another table, University of Rhode Island students and participants in the school’s Catholic Center ministry showed their support for Kathryn Yorke, who was honored with an award in the category of distinguished Catholic youth. Yorke serves as hospitality chair of the center’s Newman Club and was nominated by school Chaplain Father Joseph Upton for the award.
“Katie is one of the most warm and welcoming people you’ll ever meet,” said Newman Club member Kelsey Sheehan.
“She has the best sense of humor,” added fellow student Bridget Holte.
Gene Peloquin, a parishioner of All Saints Parish, Woonsocket, attended to show his support for Thomas Ward, who was honored in the category of communications for his work in sharing the good news of the local community as publisher of The Valley Breeze newspaper. Peloquin said he first came to know Ward when he served as principal of Dr. Harry L. Halliwell School, North Smithfield, and Ward, then a photographer for The Woonsocket Call, often visited to cover events.
“Tom has been very helpful to so many organizations,” he said. “The world would really not know about them if it were not especially for Tom.”
Peloquin emphasized how Ward, a parishioner of St. John Vianney, Cumberland, allows his faith to serve as the foundation for his work in showcasing the goodness of the community.
“He’s a man of character, solid in his Catholic faith,” said Peloquin. “His faith is the backbone of his philosophy in his work.”