AJ Colby’s Hometown Hero

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GRAFTON, Ohio -- Fox 8 Meteorologist A.J. Colby’s faith is very important to him, so for his Hometown Hero he chose a man helping to feed the spirit of those hungering for a higher purpose.

“When I see someone like Deacon John, and observe his genuine concern for others, I realize I have a long way to go, being of maximum service to others,” Colby explained.  “I stand in awe of how his altruistic sacrifices, helping others that have lost their way on their life paths, ripple through our community with unendingly positive results.”

The Rev. Deacon John Rivera with the Diocese of Cleveland serves as a prison minister at the Grafton Correctional Institution several times a month, and has done so for years.

“His services have been consistent, the inmates appreciate the fact that he’s been with us for so many years and they receive a lot from the services that he’s provided,” said Warden Kimberly Clipper of Deacon Rivera.

Touching the hearts, minds and spirits of those with whom he comes into contact, respecting the individual for being infinitely valuable in the Eyes of the Almighty, these are aspects of the Golden Rule that would truly heal many of the wounds inflicted daily on our society and our world. 

Deacon Rivera seems to embody spiritual truths and a fundamental foundation of the Gospel message, but says he doesn’t work alone.

“Because like I always say, give credit to the Spirit,” Deacon Rivera explained.  “The Spirit’s the one that opens up (the inmates’) hearts and their minds.”

Deacon John has inspired many others to become active in their faith and he is a wonderfully humble man, desiring only to be of service to his God and to the men he serves at GCI.

One day, Deacon Rivera hopes the inmates take the message beyond prison walls.

“But I always pray that hopefully, whatever they have heard, whatever they have done here as far as their faith goes they can take it out (in the world) and do good things,” Deacon Rivera said.

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