Pope Benedict XVI appoints Msgr. Evans Auxiliary Bishop of Providence
Pastor of St. Philip in Smithfield pledges 'priestly-heart' to clergy and laity
BY LAURA KILGUS & ERIC ADAMS, Staff Reporters
PROVIDENCE — The Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, has appointed Msgr. Robert C. Evans, pastor of St. Philip Church in Greenville, Auxiliary Bishop of Providence.
It has been 10 years since the diocese was last appointed an auxiliary bishop, when Pope John Paul II named the Most Rev. Robert J. McManus auxiliary to The Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee on Feb. 22, 1999.
Bishop McManus left the diocese in 2004 when he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass. on March 9, 2004.
“Today the Diocese of Providence rejoices in the appointment of Monsignor Robert C. Evans as the new Auxiliary Bishop of Providence,” said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin at a press conference held in the Chancery at One Cathedral Square. “We are very grateful to Almighty God and our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for this wonderful gift.”
From 2005 to 2007, Bishop-elect Evans served as Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. and since February 2007 has served as Pastor of St. Philip Church, and as adjunct faculty member of the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence. Bishop-elect Evans' consecration is tentatively set for Tuesday, January 5 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, however, that date is likely to change.
“Bishop-elect Evans is highly qualified to assume the Office of Bishop and this new position of leadership in our Church,” Bishop Tobin said. “He possesses remarkable gifts and talents, and has demonstrated time and time again his commitment as a faithful Priest of Jesus Christ. As a native son and a priest of the Diocese of Providence, he knows and loves our local Church and community. And in his service to the Church in Rome and in Washington, D.C., he has a unique appreciation of the needs and gifts of the Universal Church.”
Bishop-elect Evans shared that he was deeply grateful to Pope Benedict XVI, for the appointment and added that he trusts that God will guide him upon his new path and added that he was especially humbled that this appointment has come during the Year for Priests.
“I have been blessed with more than 36 years of priesthood, which is both a gift and a mystery as the late Pope John Paul II wrote about his own priestly ministry and life,” Bishop-elect Evans said. “I know that it was not so much I who chose this vocation but the Lord who, setting His Sacred Heart upon me, called me to priesthood, despite my inadequacy.”
Bishop Tobin said that the appointment of Bishop-elect Evans is another indication of the accomplishments of the priests of the Diocese of Providence, especially in this Year for Priests.
“Our priests are good and faithful men who work hard every day and serve God’s people with fidelity and joy,” Bishop Tobin said.
Bishop-elect Evans assured Bishop Tobin, priests and deacons, devoted religious, and the faithful laity of the Diocese of Providence of his constant support and prayers.
“On the day of my ordination to priesthood I made a solemn promise to obey and respect my bishop,” he said. “This pertains to me even more so as an Auxiliary Bishop, since unity in mind and heart must reflect the particular bond of communion between and among those who share in the fullness of the priesthood in the College of Bishops. I pledge to him and to my brothers in the presbyterate of the Diocese of Providence my most precious gift: a priestly heart.”
Bishop-elect Evans received a standing ovation from more than 50 priests of the diocese when Bishop Tobin announced the appointment to them moments before the closing Mass during the diocesan Priests' Convocation at the Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort and Conference Center in North Falmouth, Mass. on Cape Cod Thursday morning.
"This is wonderful news. Three weeks ago I received a phone call about this, and I have been hoping for this for a long time. The news was confirmed in writing last week," said Bishop Tobin, the main celebrant at Thursday's Mass.
Bishop Tobin said Bishop-elect Evans' appointment was made known to him last week. Bishop-elect Evans thanked his fellow priests for their goodwill and prayers as he stood next to Bishop Tobin in front of a Year for Priests' banner in a ballroom that had been converted to a chapel at the Sea Crest resort.
"I ask all of you for your prayers and patience, and I am proud to be a priest in this diocese," said Bishop-elect Evans.
Dominican Father Kenneth Letoile, homilist at Thursday's Mass, said Bishop-elect Evans' contributions to the diocesan Church signifies a love for the priesthood and the Church.
"Monsignor Evans is a native son of the diocese, was baptized at St. Lawrence Church and he grew up at St. Pius. Monsignor Evans, you opened doors to me when you were at the chancery and to me at St. Pius," said Father Letoile, OP.
The appointment of Bishop-elect Evans inspired Father Andrew Messina, who was ordained to the priesthood this past June at the Cathedral.
"This is marvelous and it inspires me. This news strengthens me and with Monsignor Evans' example this helps us stay active with the mission to have Christ's message live on in the priesthood," said Father Messina, assistant pastor at St. Francis De Sales Church in North Kingstown.
Father Marcel Taillon, pastor of St. Thomas More Church in Narragansett, said Bishop-elect Evans' ministry and dedication to the diocese is what all priests should strive for.
"It is beautiful this announcement was made with many priests here this morning. Monsignor Evans has a natural kindness and he is a perfect gentleman. The Church's mission is in his blood, and this helps reenergize the diocese and our priests," said Father Taillon, who administered the Priests' Convocation for the diocesan Office of Ongoing Formation of Priests.
Bishop-elect Evans explained he has strived to do God’s work by joyfully serving the needs of people in many places and various ministries over the past 36 years.
“The work of a pastor is to be both a father and a brother, responsible to those for whom he cares but at the same time accountable to the Lord for the divine commission given by the Good Shepherd Himself; to be faithful is to be true to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, not seeking personal gain or private fulfillment but always and only what the Lord requires.”
“The ministry of a bishop as well as that of a priest is not measured in terms of achievements or successes but is understood only in the language of faith, hope and love,” he said. “Steadfast in faith, inspired by hope, and motivated by love, I now look forward to exercising my new role among the Christian Faithful of the Diocese of Providence as Bishop Tobin deems appropriate.
Bishop Tobin added that he is confident that Bishop-elect Evans will serve the Diocese of Providence with great energy and love, for many years to come.
“I could not be happier that our Holy Father has chosen Msgr. Evans, my classmate and friend of forty years, for the Office of Bishop,” added Bishop Tobin. “I look forward to his continued friendship, counsel and support as together we share the governance and ministry of our diocesan Church.”
The Most. Rev. Kenneth Angell was auxiliary bishop to the Most Rev. Louis Gelineau from 1974 until 1992 when Bishop Angell was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, Vt. The Most Rev. Salvatore Matano, current Bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, was the Diocese of Providence's vicar general and moderator of the curia from 1992 to 1997.