Three locals honored with Lumen Gentium Awards

Three locals honored with Lumen Gentium Awards

Keith and Lisa Kline, of Johnston, were awarded the Lumen Gentium Award from the Roman Catholic Diocese in Providence for Parish Service at St. Philip Catholic Parish, in Smithfield.

SMITHFIELD – Three Catholics with Smithfield connections were recognized for their service to the Catholic faith by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence with a Lumen Gentium Award, translated from Latin as the “light for the nation,” in a ceremony on Wednesday, May 15.

Keith and Lisa Kline, awarded the Lumen Gentium for parish service, were already active members in their congregation before making the move to follow their children to the St. Philip Parish in Smithfield from St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Johnston in 2011, and the couple said the switch helped strengthen their commitment and dedication to their faith.

The couple’s three children all attended St. Philip School, and they decided to transition to the Smithfield-based church in 2011 to stay involved with their children’s lives and faith.

“There are so many ministries there. It’s an active and vibrant community. It’s easy to plug into a different service in the parish,” Lisa said.

Keith and Lisa, both occupational therapists, said they began working with youth ministry to stay connected with their children, and taught St. Philip’s children’s ministry and then high school youth ministry.

The Klines’ children are Hannah, 17, and Olivia, 16, who attend Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, Mass., and Joshua, 12, who attends St. Philip’s.

“We really wanted a family approach to our faith,” Keith said.

“Our primary vocation is family,” Lisa said.

Now that the children are older, the Klines said it was important to pass the torch of youth ministry on to the next generation, and allow others to experience the church as they did.

The pair said they felt God tugging them in a different direction that would draw the couple together. The two switched to leading a couples ministry group that focuses on adult relationships under the church. Lisa said they organized an annual marriage retreat, but feel their new focus is more on parents and families being raised in the faith.

“God has helped shape us along the way, and I believe we’re still growing, “ Lisa said.

Keith said after years of saying yes to everything, he learned how to say no, which he said is “just as holy as a yes” at times. He said they both enjoy teaching men’s and women’s ministry, but he said they’ve learned to find a balance.

Smithfield native and Bryant University student Emily Sheehan, 22, was awarded the Gentium Lumen award as a distinguished Catholic youth.

Sheehan will graduate this weekend, but leaves behind a legacy at Bryant after starting the Catholic Student Association in September 2017 of her junior year.

Sheehan, who was raised Catholic but stopped attending services around middle school, said she started at Bryant with a desire to get more involved with the Catholic church. She said she had the desire in high school, but felt uncomfortable going alone.

At Bryant, friends would text her and remind her about going to Mass.

“I felt comfortable there and to get back into my religion. There’s a comfortable level of acceptance. We all know school is busy and things come up if you miss one, but when you come back there’s no judgment or awkwardness,” Sheehan said.

She was confirmed her sophomore year, and a year later, started the CSA to welcome other students into the faith and provide a community for Catholic young adults.

She said the most popular CSA event is the monthly Sunday dinner, where every Bryant student is invited to enjoy a meal, often pasta and meatballs, before walking over to Sunday evening Mass together.

“The whole community is invited. We’re not pushing religion on anyone. I just wanted to give people the opportunity to have an hour to sit back, relax, and really form a community,” she said.

Sheehan said approximately 20 students come each Sunday, and there are always some new faces. She said the CSA has a reputation of being a welcoming community that draws members in. Currently, there are 45 members of the club, and active members of the executive board.

“I think the club will definitely continue and grow,” she said.

She said now that the club is past the one-year mark, it will be able to request additional funding from the university, and let their community service events flourish.

“Next year, the club has bigger plans,” she said.

Sheehan will continue her education at Nichols College for a master’s degree in accounting, while work at the accounting firm Wolf and Company in Boston.

She said her favorite quote from the Bible is Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Bryant University senior and Smithfield resident Emily Sheehan was recognized as a Distinguished Catholic Youth for her work creating a Catholic Youth Association at Bryant.