Living the Faith: Richard Spinale

ARLINGTON -- In a quiet, unassuming way, Richard Spinale spends much of his life in service to God. Most evenings, he can be seen at St. Camillus Parish, volunteering his services to better his parish.

For the past 12 years, Spinale has worked as the parish’s sacristan, setting up and making sure the church is ready to celebrate Mass.

“We have a very active parish,” Spinale remarked. “There are a lot of good things going on.”

According to Spinale, “each of the four buildings are in use every day of the week,” at St. Camillus’s. In addition to the “regular” church ministries, such as the music ministry and religious education, organizations such as the Retired Men’s Club of Arlington, Alcoholics Anonymous and the CARE organization, a women’s sodality, also call St. Camillus’s home.

“People feel very comfortable here,” he said. “There’s just something about St. Camillus’s that makes people feel welcome.”

This was made evident during the reconfiguration process, Spinale said, when two parishes -- St. James and St. Jerome -- were closed.

According to Spinale, many people became parishioners at St. Camillus’s during that time.

“We have been delighted to have them come here. It’s wonderful to have us grow closer together. I think that they have loved being here too,” he said.

Spinale himself first became a parishioner at St. Camillus’s 12 years ago, when he was 39. A native of Arlington, he originally belonged to St. James Parish. While a parishioner at St. James, Spinale became the sacristan there, preparing the church before Mass every weekend.

“Becoming a sacristan was a continuation of my faith,” he recalled. “It was something that just seemed right for me.”

Hearing that the pastor of St. Camillus’s was looking for a sacristan as well, Spinale, who is unmarried, offered to be the sacristan for both parishes. For years, Spinale would travel from one parish to the other every Sunday before each of the Masses.

“It was a bit chaotic at times, but I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.

Eventually Spinale became a parishioner at St. Camillus’s, in part because of his pastor, Father James O’Leary, who arrived at roughly the same time as Spinale.

“Father O’Leary is very good to talk to, very good to work with,” Spinale said. “He is a very understanding man.”

In addition to being the sacristan, Spinale, 51, is also an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, traveling often to local nursing homes to bring Communion to the elderly. He is also a member of the social committee, helping the parish to set up for its social events.

“I don’t know what I’d do without my Mass and my faith,” Spinale said. “I think I’d be lost.”