PROVIDENCE — The year 2022 has been one for the ages in the Diocese of Providence. In January, the diocese began the second half of its sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, celebration, with many large-scale events planned to engage the faithful. On February 16, 150 years to the date that Pope Pius IX signed the papal bull which officially created the Diocese of Providence on Feb. 16, 1872, a copy of that Vatican document was placed on display at the cathedral. It would turn out to be a historic year in other ways also, including the naming of a coadjutor bishop in December to serve alongside Bishop Thomas J. Tobin as he prepares to submit his intention to retire when he turns 75 on April 1, as prescribed under canon law. At the same time, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans, who submitted his letter of retirement in September, when he turned 75.
The diocese also did its part in the gathering of critical data for consideration in the global “Synod on Synodality,” initiated by Pope Francis. Currently, the diocese is participating in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year movement to restore understanding and devotion to the mystery of the Eucharist in the United States.
As we prepare to bid a fond farewell to this historic year, here are some of the other key happenings in the Diocese of Providence in 2022, as document in the pages of Rhode Island Catholic:
— January —
Bishop Louis E. Gelineau celebrated the 50th anniversary of his episcopal consecration. While he agrees that reaching the 50-year milestone of his consecration as a bishop is an exciting and worthy accomplishment to celebrate, Bishop Gelineau tempers the grandeur of the occasion with a dose of his classic self-effacing humor. “But I’m also 93 years old and that says a lot,” he laughs. He said that he very much enjoyed the 25 years that he served as shepherd of the Diocese of Providence. “I loved being among the crowds of people and leading them at Mass,” Bishop Gelineau said.
Other news from Rhode Island Catholic’s headlines: The newspaper continued its profiles of diocesan bishops across its history with profiles of Bishop Matthew Harkins: The second Bishop of Providence, and Bishop William A. Hickey: The third Bishop of Providence.
The newly formed Diocesan Synod Committee sought input from local faithful as part of a global effort after Pope Francis invoked the “Synod on Synodality,” to discuss ways to broaden participation in the Church. Each diocese around the world has been tasked with assembling a committee of priests, religious and lay people to begin by reviewing preparatory documents and questions for contemplation supplied by the Vatican.
The Prout School broke new ground on its athletic fields, 22 years after the idea was first conceived for the diocesan high school to develop a first-rate, multi-use athletic field for high school students to play soccer and lacrosse.
The Diocese of Providence Catholic Charity Appeal kicked off with a goal of $6.8 million.
Beloved Mount Saint Charles hockey coach Bill Belisle died on January 13 at the age of 92.
The Saint Philip community shows its support for life at school, parish and in Washington, D.C.
— February —
On Feb. 16, the diocese celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding, when Pope Pius IX signed the papal bull which officially created the Diocese of Providence on Feb. 16, 1872. A copy of that Vatican document was placed on display at the Cathedral. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin served as principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass, which was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, Chancellor Rev. Timothy D. Reilly, Cathedral Rector Msgr. Anthony Mancini and about a dozen priests from across the diocese.
The Catholic Charity Appeal raised $2.5 million in pledges in its first month.
An audit report showed that diocesan finances remained stable in FY 2021 despite COVID-19 pandemic challenges, with combined assets increasing by 27% over the previous fiscal year, and pension funds making positive progress.
The National Grid Foundation donated $250,000 to Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s “Keep the Heat On” program.
— March —
With the war in Ukraine in its first weeks, Father Mykhaylo Dosyak, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Woonsocket, said he had been running on very little sleep since the first bombs in the latest Russian invasion of Ukraine began falling on his native country on Feb. 23. He invited Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans to celebrate Holy Mass at his church to join him and the congregation in praying for peace in the region.
Rhode Island Catholic profiled Bishop Francis P. Keough: The fourth Bishop of Providence.
Famed author and noted columnist George Weigel spoke to a large crowd at Our Lady of Mercy Church, East Greenwich, as one of the diocese’s 150th Anniversary events. In another event, the Hillbilly Thomists brought the best of bluegrass to the 150th anniversary celebration.
— April —
The Diocese of Providence announced that Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has appointed Dr. James Power as the new Superintendent of Catholic Schools, effective July 1. “I am excited to become Providence’s next Superintendent of Catholic Schools, helping to continue and strengthen the important mission and great work already being done there,” he said. “I am privileged to be coming to a diocese and Catholic schools system that is strong, well established, and stable under the leadership of Bishop Tobin and the pastors and leaders of schools.”
In his Easter message, Bishop Tobin said, “As we remember all the blessings the Lord has given us, without a doubt, the greatest, the most important, is the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. The Resurrection changes everything. It makes everything new. It is the foundation of our faith, the forgiveness of our sins and the redemption of our souls. It is the perennial source of hope, peace and joy for our troubled, weary world.”
Religious jubilarians celebrated their years of dedicated service in the first gathering in three years commemorating those celebrating vocations anniversaries from 2020-2022.
La Salle Academy capped off its 150th anniversary celebration with a gala.
— May —
The Diocese of Providence granted $411,637.10 in heating assistance this season, the most aid it has provided in the 17-year history of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s “Keep the Heat On” Program. This amount is more than double the $171,119.55 in assistance it provided last season.
N.Y. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan delivers a powerful presentation at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, “‘Silver and gold I have not,’ (Acts 3:6) finding our treasure in God alone.”
Rhode Island Catholic profiles Bishop Russell J. McVinney: The fifth Bishop of Providence.
The state’s House of Representatives adopted a resolution commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Providence providing a home to worship and celebrate among the Catholic faithful in Rhode Island.
On May 7, Father Michael Brunner, O.S.B., was blessed as fourth Abbot of Portsmouth Abbey.
On May 21, the Catholic Schools Arts Festival was held at St. Philomena School of the Sacred Heart in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Diocese of Providence.
— June —
On June 26, the diocesan 150th anniversary celebration closed on a gloriously high note, with the consensus among the hundreds of faithful participating in Sunday’s Solemn Holy Mass at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul was that there couldn’t have been a more soaring and spiritually uplifting way to conclude the sesquicentennial year celebration.
The diocesan Catholic Charity Appeal exceeded its 2022 goal, tops $6.8 million.
Father Mark Gabriel Gadoury was ordained a priest by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin on June 4, in the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul.
A new cathedra, more in keeping with the grandeur of the cathedral, was installed.
Diocese expands ministry to pregnant and new moms.
Rhode Island Catholic profiles Bishop Louis E. Gelineau: The sixth Bishop of Providence, and Bishop Robert E. Mulvee, the seventh Bishop of Providence.
— July —
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin celebrated the Rite of Candidacy, admitting three diocesan seminarians to continue their formation for Ordination to the Priesthood, during Evening Prayer at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence on June 29. With Bishop Tobin outside the seminary chapel are seminarians Stephen Coutcher, Nathan Ledoux and Mateusz Puzanowski.
Rhode Island Catholic, El Católico won 23 national Catholic Press awards, diocesan Office of Communications and Public Relations wins first place for comprehensive 150th anniversary campaign at Catholic Media Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Father Henry Zinno, pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Bristol, garners national attention for vlogging his way through cardiac surgery in New York City.
— August —
More than 2,000 people gathered in front of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul after processing in prayer and song from the Charis USA National Conference, held on July 28 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence. During the event musicians and speakers lead the worship alternating from English to Spanish and creole under the theme: “One Church, One Lord, One Baptism.” Father Jaime Garcia, pastor of Saint Charles Borromeo Parish, Providence, participated in the conference and served during the Mass in Spanish on Saturday morning.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launches the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year movement to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery in the United States. Father Phillip Dufour, assistant pastor of St. Philip Church in Greenville, was named the coordinator of the initiative in the Diocese of Providence.
Responding to a critical need, Bishop Tobin creates a Task Force on Youth Wellness. The creation of the task force was inspired by the desire to counteract the rise of mental health issues, which are particularly pronounced among the youth, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The diocesan Synod on Synodality report shows dialogue, engagement in the Holy Mass are crucial to drawing the faithful into the celebration.
— September —
On Saturday, Sept. 10, the annual Diocesan Youth Day was held at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Cumberland. The event was attended by approximately 150 high school and college-aged youths from parishes throughout the state. The title for this year’s theme was “I am,” taken from the “I am” teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John.
Catholic Youth Ministry Director Louise Dussault announces her intention to retire at the end of the year after three decades of service
Bishop Tobin offered a blessing upon the new athletic field at The Prout School on September 14.
Saint Paul School begins 100th year with Mass of Thanksgiving
— October —
The Eucharistic Revival Initiative begins with a solemn evening of prayer at St. Philip Church, Greenville.
Father Mark Gadoury appointed Knights’ State Chaplain
Seminarian Patrick Ryan ordained to the transitional diaconate.
Noted Catholic author, philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft delivers a lecture at St. Paul’s Parish.
St. Paul’s Church celebrates its 50th anniversary in Foster.
Salve Regina celebrates Diamond Anniversary by torchlight.
— November —
Olivia Marcoux, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church and a student at Mount Saint Charles Academy, was one of two selected to deliver a message about the concerns of youth in the United States in a face-to-face visit with Pope Francis on October 12 in Rome.
An independent auditing report affirms that the Diocese of Providence is in compliance with all child and youth safety and protection standards set by the USCCB.
New Melkite bishop visits St. Basil the Great Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Lincoln in first U.S. pastoral visit.
Father Lukasz J. Willenberg promoted to Major in the United States Army.
Providence College experiences a surge in Dominican vocations.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin signs a canonical decree recognizing Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Hope as a new Catholic high school for the Diocese of Providence.
— December —
Pope Francis appoints Coadjutor Bishop of Providence Richard G. Henning; accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans.