PROVIDENCE — For her years of dedicated support for the local church, including her donation of $4.5 million to the Diocese of Providence, which allowed for the completion of the recent restoration of the towers project at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Barbara Papitto, along with her late husband Ralph, a successful local businessman, will be honored in March with a plaque in their name which will be affixed to a back wall of the cathedral.
The $4.5 million donation is the largest single gift ever given to the Diocese of Providence.
“Barbara Papitto is a woman of great faith. Her generosity to our diocese ensures that the good work of the Church will continue in Rhode Island,” said Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.
“It has been a personal joy to work with her, and I am honored to call her a friend. In particular, her dedication to the cathedral towers renovation project merits our gratitude. Our Cathedral can now stand tall in downtown Providence for generations to come as a witness to the faith, an inspiration to all Rhode Islanders, reminding us perpetually of our hope for Heaven and charitable outreach to the poor.”
In addition to her support of the cathedral restoration, Papitto has also established two endowment funds held within the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island in honor of her late husband: the ‘Ralph R. Papitto Memorial Scholarship Fund,’ which aids students at the diocesan Bishop McVinney School, and the ‘Ralph R. Papitto Fund for Seminarians.’
She also is a supporter of the annual Catholic Charity Appeal, and the recent Grateful for God’s Providence campaign.
“This gift is made with love in honor of my late husband Ralph, ” said Barbara Papitto, of her major gift that made the timely completion of the towers project possible. “I wanted to honor him in a way that was important to us both and I am so glad to be able to do so in a way that is both meaningful to us and preserves an important symbol of the Catholic faith in Rhode Island.”
In 2013 Papitto was honored by the diocese with a Lumen Gentium Award for Administration and Stewardship in her service to the Church.
Papitto, an active parishioner of Holy Apostles Church, Cranston, has always been passionate about her Catholic faith.
A graduate of St. Francis Xavier Academy, she has remained a lifelong, active alumna, working with her fellow graduates to maintain the St. Xavier Alumnae Association Scholarship Fund which assists students entering a Catholic high school.
Since 2007, Papitto, along with her late husband, has provided critical support for low income, primarily minority children, to help them improve their reading skills and earn scholarship funds for college. The Read to Succeed Program they founded now receives all its funding from the Papitto Foundation. Students in many public and Catholic schools, especially Bishop McVinney School, have benefited greatly from the program.
Papitto has volunteered at the diocese’s Gabriel Project, which assists women who are either pregnant or have young children by providing them with infant clothes, diapers and other necessities. She has also prayed the rosary for life outside local women’s clinics.
In December 2020, she founded the Papitto Opportunity Connection as a continuation of the long-time commitment she and her late husband have made to creating educational opportunities and supporting children impacted by systemic racial injustice in Rhode Island.
In 2022, she established the Barbara A. Papitto Science and Innovation Center, a new state-of-the-art science facility, at St. Mary Academy — Bay View.
“We are most grateful for the wonderful gift provided by Mrs. Papitto to the restoration project for the towers of our precious Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence,” said Vicar for Finance and Planning Msgr. Raymond Bastia.
“Barbara has been an outstanding philanthropic donor who has demonstrated her genuine support for many Catholic ministries and projects of our diocesan church and, also, for the wider community needs of our state. May God bless her for her kindness.”