Lumen Gentium Award Winner Profile

Respecting life began with respecting herself

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Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will feature profiles of the 15 winners in the 10 categories of the diocese’s 2016 Lumen Gentium Awards. The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 18. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will benefit St. Martin de Porres Multi-Purpose Center and Fruit Hill Day Care for Seniors — are asked to register online at www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.

WARREN — Having seen the darkness before yearning for the light in her own life, Barbara Fisher has strived to live the ideals of her faith ever more deeply with each passing year since undergoing a spiritual conversion more than 35 years ago.

A parishioner at St. Mary of the Bay, Fisher has labored tirelessly in her efforts, according to those she serves with in providing strong pro-life programming at the Warren parish and beyond, and is very deserving of being named an honoree for this year’s Lumen Gentium Award in the Respect Life category.

For the past three decades Fisher has served as chairperson of the Pro-life Committee at her parish, and has prayed outside of abortion clinics, participated in “Forty Days for Life,” offered witness of her own conversion to parish youth groups and Catholic high school students, and continues to work in conjunction with other pro-life organizations, including Woman to Woman and the Mother of Life Center.

For more than 20 years, she has also organized the sale of roses for St. Mary of the Bay and St. Jean Baptiste Parish and assisted St. Alexander Parish in Warren.

She has organized innumerable diaper drives, baby bottle drives and baby showers to help new mothers, often volunteering 20-30 hours a week in the diocesan St. Gabriel’s Call program, according to St. Mary of the Bay Pastor Father Douglas Grant.

“She has successfully endeared our parishioners to the pro-life cause,” said Father Grant in nominating Fisher for the diocesan honor.

“Although Barbara has engaged in social/political marches, her hope is not so much in legislation as it is in changing people’s hearts through prayer and acts of kindness.”

Fisher’s conversion back to Christ and the Church began when she came home from a visit to San Francisco in 1979.

“She was pretty beat up emotionally and spiritually. During that visit she witnessed the Light of Christ in a family member and friends who gave witness to their rebirth in Christ,” Father Grant said.

From that point on, Fisher chose a life dedicated to promoting pro-life ideals. She began to study the faith more intensely under the guidance of the late Father John Randall at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Providence and became an active weekly participant in offering witness outside local abortion clinics, often facing jeers for her beliefs.

“It was by God’s grace and it was God’s time,” Fisher said of her conversion, one which was reinforced for her one day while praying with a group outside an abortion clinic when a group of young African American women passed by, offering their support saying, “Keep it up sisters!”

“It was scary at first,” she recalled of those early days. “I had to develop a thick skin and it took commitment, but it was something I felt I had to do.”

Once, a medical professional from the clinic told her not to give up, saying, “Your message is getting out there.”

Fisher, who along with husband Thomas has three children — Ariel, Luke and Crystal — says her faith has kept her strong and on mission over her last three decades of service.

“I was always searching for some kind of inner peace, but it’s only God’s grace that changes people’s hearts,” she said.