Pope Francis Accepts Retirement of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin; Bishop Richard G. Henning Succeeds Him as Bishop of Providence


PROVIDENCE. — The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted the resignation of Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin, D.D., from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Providence. As required by the Code of Canon Law, Bishop Tobin presented a letter of resignation to the Holy Father upon reaching the age of 75 on April 1.

Most Reverend Richard G. Henning, S.T.D., who was appointed November 23, 2022, by Pope Francis as Coadjutor Bishop of Providence, automatically succeeds as the 9th Bishop of Providence. 

The changes were effective at Roman Noon (6 a.m. Eastern Time) today and were publicized in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Statement of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin  on the Occasion of His Retirement from Active Ministry

May 1, 2023

I have fought the fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.
(2 Tim 4:7)

On this day dedicated to St. Joseph the Worker, and as we begin this month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, it is with profound gratitude and personal peace that I have received word that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted my request to resign from office, that is, to retire from the active ministry. On this occasion I wish to offer these few brief words to our diocesan family.

In the homily for my Mass of Installation eighteen years ago, I said: “On occasions like this we sometimes say that a bishop takes possession of a diocese. In truth, I think it’s really the other way around – a diocese takes possession of a bishop. In that spirit, today I joyfully and willingly surrender myself to you. I give you my heart and soul. I promise to work hard for you and to do the very best I can. But keenly aware of my own weakness, limitations and needs, I will also depend on your cooperation, support and prayers.” 
With that reminder of how we began our journey together, first, a word of enormous gratitude to all the members of our diocesan church who have indeed assisted me, and supported me in so many ways during my time as your bishop. You have been so good to me! Thank you to the priests, deacons, consecrated women and men, our diocesan staff, and all the faithful lay members of our church! Thank you for your patience and your prayers. Any good that we have been able to accomplish during the past eighteen years is a result, first of all, of your faith, your generosity, and your hard work.

For the mistakes I’ve made, for my faults and failures, I am deeply sorry. And for those times when some individuals were offended by my words and deeds, I am truly sorry for that too. It can be very difficult to preach the Gospel of Christ, and to carry on the mission of the church in the world today, but that’s what we are called to do. There are many pitfalls, and it is a daily challenge to strike a perfect balance of courage and prudence; to be simultaneously “strong, loving and wise” (2 Tim 1:7) in the service of the Lord.

Finally, I urge all the members of the church to remain steadfast in your faith, to be proud of the good work you are doing, and to be determined to carry on the work that Jesus has entrusted to you. I will continue to pray fervently for you, especially for our wonderful new shepherd, my brother, Bishop Richard Henning, as he assumes the heavy burden of episcopal leadership. And please remember me and pray for me, as I begin a new chapter in my life as a disciple and priest of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

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Statement of Bishop Richard G. Henning

May 1, 2023

Praised be the name of Jesus Christ…now and forever.

For the last several months, I have been visiting communities across this “State of Hope.” My gratitude to God for this new ministry in the Diocese of Providence has only deepened as I have come to know its clergy, religious, and people.

I am particularly grateful for the time with Bishop Tobin whose own ministry as Diocesan Bishop for 18 years offers me a powerful witness of faith and a model of selfless service to the People of God.

As the Holy Father accepts Bishop Tobin’s retirement, I express my gratitude to Pope Francis and to Bishop Tobin for the gift they have given to me. I also wish to express my gratitude for the priests of this Diocese who are my brothers and co-workers in the vineyard.

Deeply aware of my need for mercy, I entrust myself and my ministry to the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

May God bless the Diocese of Providence and may we all live in the “State of Hope!”