PROVIDENCE — For Deacon Robert Troia, the recipient of a Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Administration and Stewardship, the call to active participation in the Catholic faith came at a young age. His grandmother, a daily communicant, had a strong influence on her grandson, inspiring him to become involved at his home parish of St. Bartholomew Church, Providence, as a teenager.
Now a deacon assistant at St. Rocco Church, Johnston, Deacon Troia has devoted years of service to nearly every area of parish outreach and administration, inspiring parishioners through his daily example of service and faith. He has led marriage and baptismal preparation, coordinated retreats, directed the parish Legion of Mary, volunteered at feasts, taught religious education and opened the church for daily Mass every morning for nearly 25 years. In particular, he has ministered to the sick and elderly of the community, an outreach he considers part of his call to serve the poor.
“When we were going through the diaconate, we were supposed to minister to the poorest of the poor. Who’s the poorest of the poor?” he said during an interview at the chancery.
An ordained deacon in the Diocese of Providence for 41 years, Deacon Troia told Rhode Island Catholic he once considered a vocation to the priesthood, though it turned out he was called to another path.
“I went into the seminary for a short time, but there was one thing that kept me coming back,” he said.
That one thing was his future wife, Arlene. The couple has now been married for 52 years and participates in nearly every aspect of parish life together, including co-chairing the parish’s 100th anniversary celebration. Deacon Troia has performed the marriages of his two daughters and baptized five grandchildren, and reminds other parishioners by example of the importance of keeping up a healthy marriage. Despite a busy schedule of parish activities, fellow parishioners know that in the Troia family, Friday night is reserved for date night.
“We’re so blessed, God has given us so many blessings. I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” said Arlene.
His pastor, Father Angelo Carusi, pointed out that because Deacon Troia assists with funerals as well as baptisms and religious education, he is present at all periods of life for the parishioners and knows the parish community perhaps better than any other. When Father Carusi arrived at the parish six years ago, the deacon was instrumental in introducing him to the parish.
“He’s been an asset to the parish, really,” said Father Carusi. “I think he’s well respected and he’s loved here, there’s no question there.”
Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will feature 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.