A Christmas Message

Dear Friend,

It’s such a special time of year, a time when we come together with friends and family to share the joys of the season, and especially to celebrate God’s greatest gift to us all … the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. 

As children, when the Eve of Christmas turned to night, we would close our eyes with excitement and anticipation. We would wonder, “what gifts will I receive?”

But as we grow older, we begin to realize the joy of Christmas, and what makes it so special, is the way we feel when we give to others, in the way God asks us to.

We give, especially during the Christmas season, in so many ways. Often the greatest gifts we give are subtle and unplanned. A simple smile. Joy shared with an acquaintance we rarely acknowledge. A holiday greeting of “Merry Christmas!” to the shivering bell ringer outside the store. We give meaningful hugs to family and friends, who are missed throughout the year, because life itself can become too busy.

When we open our homes and we open our hearts, the miracle of the season is no longer just a childhood dream. It’s real. We find a strong and powerful spirit of Christmas that is more real than we imagined, because He has given us our greatest gift.  

Christmas Spotlight: St. Martin de Porres Center

“Tilly” as she is known to the staff, volunteers, and her many friends at St. Martin de Porres, first walked through the doors of Rhode Island’s longest standing Senior Center at the young age of 70.

It was 21 years earlier, in 1970, when the Diocese of Providence first opened the doors of St. Martin de Porres on the West End of Providence to provide a home-away-from-home for a culturally and ethnically diverse group of Rhode Island seniors. The Diocese of Providence was ahead of its time, and had the foresight to see the growing need for seniors like Tilly, born to another culture, struggling to become a part of our community.

This year, 25 years after she first walked into St. Martin de Porres, Tilly was honored with a birthday celebration as the Center’s oldest member at 95 years young!

Tilly may be the oldest of her St. Martin de Porres friends, but her story is not unique. Born of Liberian descent, she came to America looking for the freedom and independence our great country has to offer. But the challenges for culturally and ethnically diverse seniors are great.

Tilly can’t get Social Security. She doesn’t receive Medicare. But thanks to generous donors who support the Diocese of Providence, St. Martin de Porres is able to give Tilly a place to turn when so many of her needs can’t be met elsewhere.

It was one recent morning when one of the staff members noticed Tilly was visibly in pain. But Tilly didn’t tell anybody she was having a problem. She did not ask for help.

It was Esther Price, the Director of St. Martin de Porres, who stepped-in and decided to have a doctor come to the Center and examine Tilly’s foot. It turned out she had an infection that would not have gotten better if Esther and those on the staff weren’t there to help. Without medical insurance, Tilly feels lucky for the people at the Center who care for her and the others at St. Martin de Porres.

Valuable Services Provided to Help Rhode Island Seniors

Of the many ministries the Diocese of Providence support, the spirit of giving is found at St. Martin de Porres not only during Christmas, but throughout the year.

In partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs, the Diocese gives seniors a place to go, to manage their lives and enjoy their later years more than they might, otherwise.

If not for the staff, volunteers, and caring Catholics who support the ministries of the Diocese through the Catholic Charity Appeal, St. Martin de Porres would not exist. As one of just 40 senior centers in Rhode Island, the needs are great and continue to grow as Rhode Island’s population ages. With up to 25 seniors visiting the Center three days a week, and up to 70 seniors coming in twice each week, St. Martin de Porres, the oldest senior center in Rhode Island, is a special place for over 3,000 seniors each year.

The socialization seniors enjoy at the Center is important. With fun and activities, like the upcoming Christmas party, seniors experience a positive atmosphere, and feel the impact on both their mental and physical well-being.

But St. Martin de Porres does so much more to bridge the gaps for seniors. People like Tilly are given a place to go, to be safe, and to enjoy real friendships.

Providence seniors also get the help they need getting heating assistance, insurance, and even minor medical care right at the Center, such as blood-pressure monitoring and routine examinations.

Seniors can also get transportation to and from medical appointments or to the emergency room if they require immediate attention.

There is ongoing support for both grandparents and grandchildren, and staff is available to help seniors who need to obtain Social Security, Medicare, housing, and many other state and federal services.

Additionally, seniors participate in exercise programs, health and safety programs, end-of-life counseling, and even 12-week workshops to help them with fall prevention, self management and control, body-and-mind wellness, and other programs developed to help the seniors live their lives as independently as possible.

Although those seniors who visit St. Martin de Porres throughout the year receive so much, thanks to the caring supporters who donate to the Catholic Charity Appeal, they also come to the Center ready to help each other and give back to their community ...

Giving Seniors the Opportunity to Pass Joy to Others

“The Swinging Ladies” is an active and exciting group of 20 senior line dancers (18 women and 2 men!) from St. Martin de Porres who bring light and enjoyment to others by performing around Rhode Island.

They’ve performed in front of many audiences, large and small, including dancing at nursing homes throughout the state, at the recent Senior Expo at Providence Place Mall, at corporate events for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for United Health employees, and even for our very own staff right here at the Diocese of Providence!

Giving is such a wonderful and joyous way to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. St. Martin de Porres and the many ministries supported by the Diocese of Providence are proof that when we care for one another, we experience the love God asks us to share.

From all of us at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, we hope you have a truly blessed Christmas season and a happy and healthy New Year!





Office of Stewardship & Development
One Cathedral Square
Providence, RI 02903
Ph: 401.277.2121