Gino Tricarico, 19, has been Catholic for less than three years, but already he’s made a name for himself at his parish — St. Michael’s in Lyons — and beyond, even receiving the Hands of Christ Award in late October.
Gino’s mother, Jody, is a Presbyterian, while his father, Steve, is a Catholic. They decided early on to let Gino and his sister, Jacqueline, decide for themselves which church they wanted to belong to. Jacqueline, 16, decided to join the Catholic church in 2000, and Gino decided to do the same a year later.
Once Gino decided he wanted to become Catholic, he began meeting every Tuesday after school with Sister of St. Joseph Catherine Gibbons, the parish’s religious-education coordinator.
Although Gino, who has Down syndrome, didn’t officially complete the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults until June 2001, he had been attending Mass at St. Michael’s with his great-grandmother for two or three years prior to that, his parents said. He and his great-grandmother, Anna, still attend the 4:45 p.m. Mass almost every Saturday.
“He only misses Saturday Mass when he has a football game, otherwise it’s inscribed in stone” that he will be there, his mother said.
Now that he’s a full member of the Catholic Church, Gino tries to serve his parish community in as many ways as he can. He rings the bells before Mass and greets parishioners as they enter the church. At the beginning and end of Mass he carries the crucifix down the aisle at the head of the procession, and in between he serves as an usher, helping to take up the collection and bringing the offertory gifts to the priest.
He enjoys his role as an usher, proudly wearing an usher’s pin given to him by fellow usher Chuck Donovan. Gino has noticed that serving other people makes them happy, which is what makes him happiest, he said. It was this service to his fellow parishioners that made him eligible for the Diocese of Rochester’s annual Hands of Christ award, which recognizes high-school seniors for outstanding service to others.
“I’m really glad I’m getting this award, and I’m happy about it,” said Gino, who received his Hands of Christ plaque during an Oct. 24 Mass at St. Michael’s.
Three other high-school seniors from the parish — Jennifer Clemons, Elizabeth DeTorio and Lucas Gutschow — were also recognized that weekend.
After Saturday-afternoon Mass, Gino and Anna go back to Anna’s house, where she cooks him “a meal fit for the king.” After dinner, Gino and his great-grandmother watch television and play Yahtzee until about 8:30 or 9, Gino said. Gino’s great-grandmother is his best friend, and he’s proud of her. Although she’s 90 years old, she still drives, cooks and cleans her whole house, Jody said.
When Gino is not at church or Anna’s house on the weekends, he can often be found watching sports. He loves football, a sport he’s played for six years. He was a lineman on the Lyons High School football team, which finished its season Oct. 22. When he was younger, he also played Little League baseball and youth basketball, his father said.
Gino is excited about graduating in June and being able to work with his father, who installs carpeting and tile and vinyl floors. It won’t be his first job, as Gino currently works at the P&C store in Newark each morning before school and usually works with his father each summer.
“He’s my right-hand man during the summer,” Steve said.
Gino is friendly and bright, and the way he lives his life is inspiring, according to Sister Gibbons.
“It’s wonderful to see how Gino has dealt with life, and how life has dealt with Gino,” she said.