TO THE EDITOR:
I noted with sadness the passing of Father Francis Guidice. May I add one aspect of his productive life not mentioned in your accounts of his priestly career. Back in 1976, I was the volunteer chairman of the 25-member Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission, the official state agency to celebrate 200 years of American independence. To generate the earliest possible public involvement, I created dozens of committees and sub-committees to make our celebration comprehensive and far-reaching ethnic heritage, sports, parades, festivals, re-enactments, publications, and a committee on Religion and Social Awareness. Father Guidice was a natural to chair that committee. Even then, his social apostolate was well-known. Father Guidice’s committee added an essential religious dimension to the statewide observance. It not only celebrated the faith of our Founders, but demonstrated through its many events, the continuing importance of religion and social awareness in our lives.
One of the committee’s most enduring projects was to assist in publishing a book on the early history of Catholicism in Rhode Island written by me and Matthew Smith. That book was presented at a Cathedral ceremony in December, 1976, just prior to the conclusion of the bicentennial year. Hopefully the upcoming 250th observance in 2026 will also recognize and emphasize the importance of religion in American history and life, both then and now.
Dr. Patrick T. Conley, Historian Laureate of Rhode Island