PAWTUCKET — The Most Reverend Ernest Bertrand Boland, O.P., D.D., died on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 2023, at the Jeanne Jugan Residence (Little Sisters of the Poor) in Pawtucket, R.I., where he had resided since 2017. He was Bishop Emeritus of Multan, Pakistan, and a member of the Order of Preachers (Dominican Friars) of the Province of St. Joseph and of the Dominican Friars’ Community at Providence College. At the time of his death, he was the oldest (almost 98 years of age) and the longest-serving bishop (almost 57 years) within the Order of Preachers.
Born on July 10, 1925, in St. Patrick’s Parish on Smith Hill in Providence, Ernest Anthony Boland was the son of the late John H. Boland and Anastasia (McConnell) Boland. He attended St. Patrick’s School and graduated from La Salle Academy in 1943. He then joined the U.S. Army, serving in France and Germany before being honorably discharged in 1945 with the rank of corporal. In 1946, he entered the pre-ecclesiastical program at Providence College, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1952.
In 1948, he entered the novitiate of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, Ky., where he received the religious name Bertrand. On Aug. 16, 1949, he made his simple profession of vows. He studied philosophy from 1949-1952 at St. Joseph Priory in Somerset, Ohio, and made his solemn profession of vows on Aug. 16, 1952. He then moved to the Dominican House of Studies and the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., earning the baccalaureate (1955) and licentiate (1956) degrees in sacred theology. On Jun. 9, 1955, he was ordained a priest at St. Dominic Church in Washington, D.C., by the Most Rev. Jerome D. Hannon, Bishop of Scranton, Penn. In 1956, Father Boland was assigned to St. Patrick Rectory in Columbus, Ohio, where he taught biology at Aquinas College High School for one year.
Father Boland spent the next 34 years in the Catholic Mission of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in Pakistan, beginning as a missionary at Model Town in Bahawalpur, West Pakistan, from 1957-1960. From 1960-1962, he exercised his priestly ministry at Bishop’s House and was chancellor of the Diocese of Multan, West Pakistan. From 1962-1966, Father Boland was, among other things, the rector at St. Vincent’s High School in Mian Channun, Multan, West Pakistan, and advisor to the vicar provincial from 1963-1966. On May 17, 1966, Pope Paul VI appointed him third Bishop of Multan, and on Jul. 25, 1966, the Most. Rev. Russell J. McVinney, D.D., Bishop of Providence, consecrated him as Bishop in a ceremony that took place at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Providence. The Most Rev. Fulton J. Sheen, D.D., was a co-consecrator.
His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Cordeiro, Archbishop of Karachi, performed the installation ceremony in Multan on Oct. 25, 1966. From 1966-1984, he lived at Bishop’s House in Multan, West Pakistan (renamed Pakistan in 1971). During his 18 years as bishop, he undertook tirelessly the building of churches, schools and pastoral centers in the diocese as well as the building up of the diocesan clergy. He became Bishop Emeritus of Multan in 1984 and continued his pastoral work at St. Dominic Parish in Bahawalpur until 1990. He received an honorary doctor of religious education degree at PC’s 66th commencement exercises in 1984.
Returning to the U.S. in 1991, Bishop Boland spent three years as chaplain of the Dominican Nuns at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in North Guilford, Conn. From 1994-2005, as Retired Bishop in residence at PC’s St. Thomas Aquinas Priory, he assisted with celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation and other ceremonies, greatly helping the Bishop of Providence.
He is survived by his sister, Madeline Egan, by nieces and nephews and their families, and by his Dominican brothers. He was predeceased by his parents, by three brothers, Rev. Edward F. Boland of the Providence Diocese, John H. Boland, Jr., and Paul G. Boland; and by three sisters, Sister Helen Boland, R.S.M., Louise O’Meara, and Mary Gurney.
Bishop Boland touched very many lives and was a true Apostle and shepherd in the image of Jesus, his Lord. He was gentle, humble and faithful to the Father’s will. His family, friends, and Dominican brothers, while mourning his passing, are grateful for this good man’s witness and rejoice with him as he enters the fullness of life.
His body will be received into the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas at Providence College at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jun. 1. Visitation will take place until 7 p.m., when the Office of the Dead will be celebrated. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for him in the same Chapel at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jun. 2. The principal celebrant will be the Most Reverend Christopher M. Cardone, O.P., D.D., Archbishop of Honiara, Solomon Islands. Bishop Boland’s body will then be laid to rest in the Dominican Friars Cemetery on the Providence College campus.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Dominican Fathers Province of St. Joseph, Mission Secretariat, 141 East 65th Street, New York, N.Y., 10065-6648, for the Dominican Vice Province of Pakistan.