Very Rev. Walter Urban Voll, O.P., S.T.M.


FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Very Rev. Walter Urban Voll, O.P., S.T.M., a member of the Order of Preachers (Dominican Friars) of the Province of St. Joseph and of the Dominican community of the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas at Providence College, Providence, died on Sunday, January 24, 2021 at St. Patrick’s Manor in Framingham, Mass. following a period of decline.
Born Walter John Voll on October 27, 1922, in Syracuse, N.Y., he was the son of Walter and Genevieve (Morrissey) Voll. He attended Most Holy Rosary School there from 1928 until 1936 and graduated from the Christian Brothers’ Academy in 1940. He then enrolled in the Guzman Hall pre-ecclesiastical program at Providence College.
Father Voll entered the novitiate of the Order of Preachers in 1942 at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, Ky., and was given the religious name Urban. He made his first profession of vows there on August 16, 1943, and then moved to St. Joseph’s Priory in Somerset, Ohio, to study philosophy, after which he made his solemn profession of vows in 1946.
He studied theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., from 1946 until 1950, being ordained a priest on June 9, 1949, in St. Dominic Church in Washington by Bishop Edward Celestine Daly, O.P., S.T.M., of Des Moines, Iowa.
Father Voll earned his Lectorate and Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in 1950, and, in 1951, his Master of Arts in English Renaissance Literature from the Catholic University of America. In 1961, Father Voll was awarded a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in Moral Theology from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, and, in 1967, the degree of Master of Sacred Theology by the Master of the Order of Preachers. Father Voll was one of the last members of the Order to have earned his S.T.M. by sitting for an examination.
Father Voll began his long and varied teaching ministry at Providence College (1950-1952), and continued at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., (1952-1956), the College of St. Mary of the Springs in Columbus, Ohio (1956-1960), Xaverian College in Silver Spring, Md. (1960-1961), the Catholic University of America (1961-1965), the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception (1965-1970), Barry College in Miami, Fla. (1970-71), and St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla. (1971-80), where he was rector (1973-1980).
He taught at the Pontifical Faculty of St. Thomas (the Angelicum) in Rome (1981-1984) and at Providence College (1984-1990), when he was elected Prior of the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas there. In 1993, he was elected Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, headquartered in New York City, and served until 1997, when he returned to Providence College. While Prior Provincial, Father Voll also served as Chair of the Corporation of Providence College.
Father Voll was editor for Moral Theology for the Catholic Theological Encyclopedia (1966-1970) and wrote several entries on subjects in Moral Theology for the New Catholic Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion. He published several articles in The Thomist, Angelicum, and other learned journals.
As the first rector of St. Vincent de Paul Seminary after it had come under the jurisdiction of the Florida dioceses, Father Voll was responsible for building an institution, located as it is at the northern gateway to Latin America, that could prepare priests for an increasingly Hispanic Catholic community. He regarded these seven years as among the most fruitful in his life.
At the age of 75, Father Voll formally retired from teaching but carried on an active life of priestly ministry, study, community life, and prayer at Providence College. He maintained his intellectual interests and was a voracious reader and commentator.
In 2018, Father Voll moved first to the Residence St. Antoine in North Smithfield and then to St. Patrick’s Manor in Framingham, Mass., where he celebrated his seventieth anniversary of priestly ordination in 2019.
He was pre-deceased by his parents and by his siblings Gene Voll, Genevieve Voll Rafferty, and Kevin Voll. He is survived by their children and grandchildren and by his Dominican brothers.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father Voll in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary at the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas at Providence College on Saturday, January 30. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Providence College, Office of Institutional Advancement, One Cunningham Square, Providence, RI 02918, for the Dominican Scholarship Fund.