A Year to Remember

Holy Masses, special events and inspired speakers help make for a remarkable year celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Providence


A Night to Honor Mary

The Diocese of Providence inaugurated the sesquicentennial of its founding with a solemn, but grand celebration at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on Sept. 8, 2021 with A Night to Honor Mary, held on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The evening of prayer brought together a broad coalition of about 600 faithful, including priests, deacons, seminarians, religious men and women, families and young people, along with members of several lay organizations, including the Knights of Columbus and the Men of St. Joseph. The evening was highlighted by the praying of the rosary in five languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Polish; a homily delivered by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin; and a moving procession of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the cathedral while all in attendance sang a stirring litany.
Photo: Rick Snizek

Renowned Catholic author speaks
about dignity of work in Year of St. Joseph

Mike Aquilina, a popular Catholic author of more than 60 books, including “St. Joseph and His World,” weaved his extensive knowledge of early church history into an engaging presentation on the life and works of St. Joseph that served as the second official event of the diocese’s 150th anniversary celebration, co-sponsored by the Men of St. Joseph International. In his evening talk at St. Philip Church, Greenville on Sept. 21, 2021, Aquilina, who also serves as executive vice president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and hosts the “Way of the Father” podcast for Catholic Culture, spoke of how this Year of St. Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis last Dec. 8, calls us to an extraordinary act of remembrance of this saint whose actions have continued to speak volumes over the past 2,000 years.
Photo: Rick Snizek

Acts of Charity

Many local parishes and schools have taken this 150th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Providence as an opportunity for increased Acts of Charity. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin presented special Acts of Charity plaques to those members of the diocesan family who demonstrated increased volunteer efforts during the anniversary year. The bishop visited The Prout School, a diocesan Catholic high school, on Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to present plaques to three Prout students who spearheaded a school and community-wide effort to collect winter clothing for Afghan refugees then-housed at the U.S. Army’s Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. In another presentation, after Mass on May 21, St. Francis of Assisi Pastor Father Adam Young presented a special plaque to recognize the works of charity being done by the Peace Dale Dinner Table, an ecumenical endeavor between two churches, St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the Peace Dale Congregational Church. Since January 2021, more than 20,000 free meals have been distributed or delivered to neighbors in need in South Kingstown and Narragansett.
Photo: Rick Snizek

Evening Prayer & Dinner with the Deacons

On Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin welcomed the permanent deacons of the Diocese of Providence and their wives to the chapel at Aldrich Mansion in Warwick Neck for a beautiful evening of prayer, thanksgiving and fellowship. Bishop Tobin led them in evening prayer. In his blessing to the deacons, the Bishop recognized their devotion to the church as the diocese began to celebrate its 150th anniversary. For about 45 years, the bishop said, the permanent deacon program has been a very important part of the diocese. “We are grateful for all that God has given us for the past 150 years and we look forward to the future with faith, confidence and trust in the Lord’s goodness. I wanted to just gather tonight to thank you, all the other deacons who could not be here tonight, and those who have gone before you, and to your wives as well,” said Bishop Tobin. “Thank you so much for all you have done to make this diocesan church a rich and vibrant expression of God’s presence in our community.”
Photo: Laura Kilgus

Sounds of the Season

In conjunction with the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Providence, the Gregorian Concert Choir and Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Rev. Msgr. Anthony Mancini, performed the “The Sounds of the Season” concert on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul, Providence, to benefit Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s “Keep the Heat On” program which assists poor and low income families with utility expenses.
Photo: Courtney Amaral

National pro-life speaker offers moving talk on the dignity of the human person

Gloria Purvis received a warm welcome at McVinney Auditorium, Providence on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, as she captivated the crowd with her warm personality, compelling personal stories and strong conviction to the Catholic faith. This speaking event was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Life and Family Ministry and the Knights of Columbus as part of the 150th anniversary celebration. In a special welcome, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said the anniversary is the time to reflect on the gifts, blessings and graces God has given to the church for 150 years and renew our commitment to the Lord and to the Church.
Photo: Laura Kilgus

Hillbilly Thomists bring the best of bluegrass to anniversary celebration

An Evening with The Hillbilly Thomists was held on Thursday, April 21, 2022, at Providence College as part of the continued celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Providence. The Hillbilly Thomists are a band composed of Dominican friars, including two of Providence College’s own chaplains, Father Justin Bolger and Father Peter Gautsch. The anniversary event was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Providence and Providence College’s Campus Ministry. PC President Father Kenneth R. Sicard, O.P., told those gathered that the college is blessed to be part of this diocese under the leadership of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin. “The relationship between the college and the diocese is strong and takes many forms. Above all, we are linked by our commitment to Catholic ideals and faith communities that endure,” he said. Bishop Tobin added that the relationship with the college is both strong and vibrant and expressed his gratitude that so many gathered to celebrate.
Photo: Laura Kilgus

Religious jubilarians celebrated for their years of dedicated service

On Saturday, April 23, 2022, the Diocese of Providence hosted a celebration for religious living and working in the diocese who are commemorating jubilee anniversaries of their religious vows. The events surrounding this year’s celebrations have been much anticipated. While an annual event, celebrations for 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to gathering restrictions surrounding Covid-19. This year’s jubilee Mass commemorated the jubilarians for the past three years and was part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Providence.
Photo: Rick Snizek

150th anniversary of papal decree founding Diocese of Providence celebrated at cathedral

The Diocese of Providence marked the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s signing of the decree, which founded the new diocese and delineated its boundaries, during the noon Mass at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin served as principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass, which was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, Chancellor Timothy D. Reilly, Cathedral Rector Msgr. Anthony Mancini and about a dozen priests from across the diocese. The procession into the sanctuary passed an elaborately framed, archival quality copy of the papal bull with the signature of Pope Pius IX, who erected the Diocese of Providence on Feb. 16, 1872. An English translation of the Latin text contained in the bull flanked the document in the frame. To the side was a painted portrait of Pope Pius IX, also known as Pio Nono. “It was on this very day, 150 years ago, that Pope Pius IX signed the decree which established the Diocese of Providence. This is our birthday, this is our anniversary,” Bishop Tobin said in his homily. The Vatican document was blessed by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
Photos: Rick Snizek

Famed author, columnist George Weigel visits diocese

On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Catholic author, columnist and social critic George Weigel delivered a presentation at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, East Greenwich. Weigel’s presentation, titled “The Catholic Moment: The Church in the United States and the Redemption of American Democracy,” was held as a part of the 150th Anniversary celebrations for the Diocese of Providence. The well-attended event was co-sponsored by the diocese and the Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture (an organization connected with Portsmouth Abbey that holds events to train Catholics to critically engage with the culture).
Photo: Laura Kilgus

N.Y. Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivers powerful presentation at cathedral

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, delivered a special presentation titled, “Silver and gold I have not,” (Acts 3:6) finding our treasure in God alone,” at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The event was co-sponsored by the diocese and the Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture. Hundreds were in attendance for the major event, including laypeople, clergy and religious, and Catholic school students clad in their school uniforms. During his presentation, the cardinal combined, in his usual fashion, theological depth with wit and humor. “Folks, it is a real honor and joy to be here,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And congratulations, beloved Diocese of Providence. Now, take it from this guy from a diocese down the shore that’s been around 44 years longer than you have, you don’t look bad for 150 years.” The night’s events began with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which also included a short reflection from Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.
Photo: Laura Kilgus

Catholic Schools Arts Festival

Under bright blue skies on Saturday, May 21, 2022, about 225 students from 15 Catholic elementary and high schools across the diocese stretched out on the lawn at St. Philomena School of the Sacred Heart, Portsmouth, to celebrate the arts and to make some music history. The Catholic Schools Arts Festival, sponsored by the diocesan Catholic Schools Office and McVinney Auditorium, was a signature event in the Diocese of Providence’s yearlong celebration of its 150th anniversary. With temperatures in the upper 80s, food trucks served up ice cream to provide some respite from the heat, as well as gourmet empanadas to satisfy the appetites of the hundreds who gathered to participate in the music and stage performances, along with their families and friends who came to watch. Around the edges of the expansive grounds, several schools set up tables showcasing other aspects of their creative arts programs.
Photo: Rick Snizek