Throughout this anniversary year, Rhode Island Catholic has featured profiles of the seven former bishops who have led the Diocese of Providence over the last 150 years. Here, we feature a compilation of biographies of those who have served as auxiliary bishop of Providence over the course of its history.
Bishop Thomas Francis Doran was born on October 4, 1856, in Barrington, Rhode Island, the son of James and Catherine (Nolan) Doran. He completed his studies at Mount St. Mary’s College/Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and was ordained to the priesthood on July 4, 1880, in St. Charles Church, Woonsocket, by Bishop Thomas F. Hendricken.
Father Doran served in several pastoral positions in the Diocese of Providence: as assistant pastor, St. Mary, Newport, (1880); as diocesan chancellor (1887); pastor, St. Edward Parish, Providence (1893); vicar general (1894); pastor, Immaculate Conception, Providence (1894); rector, Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul (1896); and pastor, St. Joseph, Providence (1899). He was also the treasurer and chief financial officer for St. Joseph Hospital and served on several diocesan boards and committees.
He was commissioned first lieutenant and chaplain of the Second Regiment, Rhode Island Militia in 1888, and accompanied the Regiment and the Brigade to the annual encampments at Oakland Beach. He continued with the Regiment until 1895.
In 1905, he was named Domestic Prelate with the title Monsignor by the Holy Father, and in 1911 he was named protonotary apostolic. On February 26, 1915, Pope Benedict XV named Monsignor Doran as titular bishop of Halicarnassus and as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence. Bishop Matthew Harkins consecrated Bishop Doran on April 28, 1915, in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. Doran died of pneumonia a little more than eight months later, on January 3, 1916.
Bishop Dennis Matthew Lowney, was born in Castletown-Bearhaven, Ireland, June 1, 1863, son of Denis and Bridget Lowney, and educated in Fall River, Massachusetts. He attended colleges in St. Laurent, Canada and in New York City. He completed his seminary studies at the Grand Seminary in Montreal and was ordained on December 17, 1887 and assigned as assistant pastor of St. Mary Parish in Providence.
In 1891, he served as assistant at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence, and in 1894 he was appointed chancellor of the diocese and served in that capacity until 1903 when he was appointed rector of the cathedral. In 1905, he was installed as rector of St. Joseph’s Church in Pawtucket.
He also served as vicar general, was a member of the Bishop’s Council, chairman of the board of examiners of the clergy, chairman of the school board, chairman of the board of trustees for Infirm Priests’ Fund, diocesan director of the Eucharist League and treasurer of the St. Vincent de Paul Infant Asylum.
As head of St. Vincent de Paul Infant Asylum he became widely known for his dedication to the children that were raised there and devoted himself to the building and development of the facility.
On July 13, 1917, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence and was consecrated on October 23, 1917, in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Providence.
Bishop Lowney died at the cathedral residence on August 13, 1918, after an illness of several weeks.
Bishop Thomas Francis Maloney was born on April 17, 1903, in Providence, Rhode Island, and studied for the priesthood at the American College of the Immaculate Conception in Louvain, Belgium. He completed his studies in Louvain in 1930 and was ordained a priest the same year.
The American College closed for more than 10 years beginning in 1939, when World War II broke out in Europe, but when Providence Bishop Russell McVinney, D.D., became chair of the college’s new board of bishops in 1951, he appointed Father Maloney as the new rector. As the first American to serve as rector of the college, he faced the difficult challenge of rebuilding a seminary that had been dormant for more than a decade. Maloney arrived again in Louvain in spring of 1952, and made way for the arrival of the first 54 seminarians that autumn. He began renovations of the American College building in 1955, in the prelude to its centennial celebration in 1957. He remained as rector of the American College for three more years, caring for the thriving institution that he had rebuilt.
On January 2, 1960, Maloney was appointed to serve as the auxiliary bishop of Providence by Pope John XXIII. As a result, he left his position as rector of the American College, and was consecrated as titular bishop of Andropolis on May 11, 1960. He would serve for only two years after his consecration, dying on September 10, 1962 at the age of 59.
Bishop Bernard Matthew Kelly was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7, 1918, son of James C. and Julia (Hanlon) Kelly. He graduated from Blessed Sacrament School in 1932; La Salle Academy in 1936 and then attended Providence College for two years, from 1936-1938. He then attended the Lateran University, in Rome, from 1938-1940, followed by the Catholic University Theological College and the Sulpician Seminary from 1940-1944.
He was ordained a priest on June 3, 1944. After ordination, he earned a doctorate in canon law at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and served as assistant pastor and as an instructor at La Salle Academy in Providence. He also served as chaplain of Mother of Hope Novitiate in Warwick, Rhode Island and as spiritual director of Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Warwick Neck. In 1947, Kelly was named defender of the bond for the diocese.
Kelly was consecrated a bishop on January 30, 1964 — two years after the death of Auxiliary Bishop Maloney — becoming the second auxiliary to serve with Bishop Russell J. McVinney. He was tasked with many administrative duties in the diocese and played an active role in the social justice and anti-war movements of the 1960s. He became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War.
On June 14, 1971, he resigned as Auxiliary Bishop and, unfortunately, left priestly and episcopal ministry until his death on December 5, 2006, in Keyser, West Virginia, at the age of 88.
Bishop Kenneth Anthony Angell was born on August 3, 1930, in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Henry L. and Mae T. (Cooney) Angell. He was educated in East Providence Public Elementary Schools; Our Lady of Providence High School and Seminary, Warwick, Rhode Island; and St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1957, at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. He served in parish ministry as parochial vicar at St. Mark, Jamestown; and Sacred Heart, Pawtucket; and as assistant pastor at St. Mary, Newport; and as pastor of St. John Parish in Providence.
He served in diocesan ministry as assistant chancellor and secretary to the Most Reverend Russell J. McVinney, from 1968-1972. He then served as chancellor to Bishop Louis E. Gelineau, from April 26, 1972-1974. He was invested as Prelate of Honor to His Holiness Pope Paul VI, on December 17, 1972, before being appointed vicar general of the Diocese of Providence on August 30, 1974.
Monsignor Angell was elevated to the episcopate as titular bishop of Settimunicia and auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence on August 13, 1974. He was ordained by Bishop Louis E. Gelineau at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on October 7, 1974, and served for eight years until being installed as the eighth Bishop of Burlington, Vermont, on November 9, 1992. He resigned as bishop on Nov. 9, 2005, at the age of 75. He died on October 4, 2016, in Burlington, Vermont, at the age of 86.
Bishop Robert Joseph McManus, S.T.D., was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 5, 1951, the son of Edward W. and Helen F. (King) McManus of Narragansett. He is a graduate of Blessed Sacrament School in Providence and Our Lady of Providence Seminary High School. He studied for the priesthood at Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Warwick; The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. (bachelor’s and master’s degrees); and the Toronto School of Theology (master of divinity degree). He also earned licentiate and doctoral degrees in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Kenneth A. Angell on May 27, 1978. Following ordination, he served as temporary assistant chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital (1978); associate pastor at St. Matthew Parish, Cranston (1978-81); and associate pastor at St. Anthony Parish, Providence (1981-82). He pursued doctoral studies in theology in Rome from 1984 to 1987. On July 1, 1986, while still in Rome, he was named director of the diocesan Office of Ministerial Formation.
Father McManus became diocesan vicar for education on November 9, 1987, while continuing as director of the Office of Ministerial Formation and in-residence at St. Luke. On October 4, 1990, he assumed the additional duty as theological consultant and editorial writer for The Providence Visitor newspaper. He was appointed a Prelate of Honor to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor on February 28, 1997. He was named rector of Our Lady of Providence Seminary on June 26, 1998, while continuing his duties as vicar for education and director of Ministerial Formation.
Monsignor McManus was ordained as titular bishop of Allegheny and auxiliary bishop of Providence by Bishop Angell on February 22, 1999, and he continued to serve as secretary for Ministerial Formation and rector of Our Lady of Providence Seminary.
On March 9, 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop McManus as the fifth bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, where he was installed on May 14, 2004.
Bishop Robert C. Evans, the seventh and current auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence, was born September 2, 1947, in Moultrie, Georgia. The son of the late Ivey Evans and Lolita Baldisseri, he was raised in Providence, Rhode Island, on Federal Hill, and attended Providence public schools. He graduated from Our Lady of Providence Seminary High School in 1965 and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Our Lady of Providence College Seminary in Warwick in 1969. Bishop Russell J. McVinney then assigned Evans to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in 1972 from the Pontifical Gregorian University. The following year, he earned a master’s degree in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).
Evans was ordained to the priesthood in 1973 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, by Bishop James A. Hickey. In 1973, Father Evans was assigned as assistant pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly and in 1974, was appointed assistant pastor of Holy Angels Church in Barrington and chaplain at Roger Williams College in Bristol. In the summer of 1978, he served as assistant chaplain at both Rhode Island Hospital and Roger Williams Hospital in Providence; then in September 1978 as assistant pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in North Providence. In 1979, he was assigned to St. Mark’s Parish, Cranston as assistant pastor.
Evans began his service in diocesan administration when he was appointed administrative secretary to Bishop Louis E. Gelineau in December 1983. In 1987, he was assigned to advanced studies in canon law in Rome. In 1989, he was awarded a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Returning to the Diocese of Providence that year, he served as vice-chancellor with residence at St. Margaret’s Parish, Rumford. In June 1991, he was appointed pastor of St. Anthony’s Parish in Woonsocket, chancellor of the Diocese of Providence and director of the Office of Priests’ Personnel.
In 1993, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1993 with the title of Reverend Monsignor. From 1992-1997, he was resident at St. Joan of Arc Parish, Cumberland, and later in residence at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, East Greenwich. In 2001, Bishop Robert E. Mulvee released Monsignor Evans to serve as director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education and as a faculty member at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
From 2005 to 2007, he served as secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., and in February 2007, he served as pastor of St. Philip Church in Greenville and adjunct faculty member of the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence.
On October 15, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI named him auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence. On December 15, 2009, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, D.D., consecrated Bishop Evans at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul as Evans’ dear mother, Lolita, looked on lovingly from the front pew.
Bishop Tobin delivered the homily, explaining that a bishop is anointed to be a prophet “imbued with the Word of God and commissioned to preach that word to the Church and the world.”
The Word of God is “sometimes comforting, sometimes directing, and sometimes challenging, and should be preached fearlessly and boldly, in season and out of season,” he said.
In December 2019, Auxiliary Bishop Evans marked the 10th anniversary of his consecration, expressing his own humility at having been chosen for the office.
“First and last, I remain a priest of the Lord, not through any merit of my own, and surely not as a career choice,” he said. “I believe that each and every priest can witness to the Lord’s own words that we have not so much chosen him as he has chosen us.”