Ten diocesan priests receive Papal honor

Pope Benedict XVI names ‘Monsignors’

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(PROVIDENCE, R.I.)-The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, today announced that Pope Benedict XVI, has named ten priests in the diocese as ‘Chaplains to His Holiness’ with the title ‘Reverend Monsignor’. ‘Chaplains to His Holiness’ is a Pontifical honor in recognition of the recipient’s service and commitment to the Church.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS STORY INCLUDING REACTION FROM THE NEW MONSIGNORS IN THE JANUARY 15 EDITION OF RHODE ISLAND CATHOLIC

The ten priests named to this Papal Honor include: Msgr. Raymond B. Bastia, Msgr. Barry R.L. Connerton, Msgr. John C. Halloran, Msgr. Nicholas J. Iacovacci, Msgr. John W. Lolio, Msgr. Anthony Mancini, Msgr. Gerard O. Sabourin, Msgr. Richard D. Sheahan, Msgr. Ronald P. Simeone and Msgr. Victor M. Vieira. They were personally informed of the new distinction by Bishop Tobin after he received notification from the Vatican. (Brief biographies of the Monsignors may be found below.)

The priests named ‘Monsignors’ are considered members of the Papal Household and traditionally wear a black cassock trimmed with purple piping and buttons and a purple sash.

“I am very proud and honored that the Holy See has bestowed such a special designation upon ten of our priests,” said Bishop Tobin. “As I have said on so many occasions, the priests of the Providence Diocese are remarkable men, in love with the Lord, faithful to the priesthood and very generous in their service. This honor is a reflection on all priests in the diocese who work tirelessly each and every day to spread the Gospel and serve the church.”

Bishop Tobin requested that the honors be granted after consultation with Diocesan advisors, Deans and the Priests’ Personnel Board.

Exclusive of those named today, there are 14 living priests with the title ‘Monsignor’ in the Diocese of Providence. Since the diocese was established in 1872, more than 80 priests have received the Papal honor here. The last Monsignor approved by the Vatican for the diocese was in 2004.

Bishops recommend to the Holy See candidates for Papal Honors. Those recommended for ‘Chaplain to His Holiness’ must be 35 years of age and a priest for at least 10 years. Following a Vatican review of the candidate’s credentials and background, the Holy See may approve or deny such nominations. Upon final approval by the Holy Father, the Vatican Secretary of State issues a decree in the name of the nominated priest indicating the new rank in service to the Catholic Church.

“We thank all our priests for their distinguished service to the Church,” added Bishop Tobin. “I hope that all members of our presbyterate will experience the pride and joy this recognition brings to our diocese. As St. Paul reminds us, ‘If one member of the Body is honored, all the members share its joy.’”

A ceremony will be held in the near future to formally present the decrees to the recipients.

In each diocese, the number of priests with this honor may not exceed 10 percent of the total number of priests. Such titles are held for life.

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Biographies of Newly Named Monsignors in the Diocese of Providence

MSGR. RAYMOND B. BASTIA, born on October 19, 1948, ordained on August 2, 1975

Father Bastia served as associate pastor of St. Mary Parish, Cranston, R.I. and Sacred Heart Parish, West Warwick, R. I. From 1980 until 1989 he was a full time teacher at Our Lady of Providence Preparatory Seminary and High School. In addition to teaching religion at the school, Father Bastia served as personal spiritual and academic advisor to many students, coordinated the pastoral and liturgical function of the school and was promoted to assistant dean of students.

Father Bastia served as pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Johnston, R.I. and St. Ann Parish, Providence, R.I. Father Bastia demonstrated great pastoral zeal in his service to these parish communities and, particularly at St. Ann Parish, in spite of serious financial challenges, he worked tirelessly to maintain a high quality Catholic elementary school.

In June, 2000, Father Bastia was appointed Vicar Forane in the Providence North deanery and served three terms in that capacity.

Father Bastia presently serves as Secretary for Planning and Financial Services for the Diocese and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Providence.

MSGR. BARRY R. L. CONNERTON, born on October 9, 1944; ordained on May 23, 1970.

Upon ordination to the priesthood, Father Connerton was assigned to teach at Our Lady of Providence Preparatory Seminary and to serve as associate pastor of St. Philip Parish in Greenville, R.I. In 1974, he was appointed associate editor of the diocesan newspaper. In that capacity, in addition to assisting in the general editorial process, he directed the business operations of the paper and wrote articles on matters related to Catholic schools and religious education.

In 1984, Father Connerton was appointed pastor of Mary Mother of Mankind Parish in North Providence and in 1991 he was appointed to his present assignment as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Providence, one of the largest parishes in the diocese. Father Connerton’s pastoral ability is further reflected in his personal attention to a vibrant parish elementary school.

Throughout his ministry Father Connerton has been noted for his exceptional organizational and administrative skills and has served on diocesan budget advisory committees. In September 2006 he was appointed Vicar Forane for the Providence North Deanery.

MSGR. JOHN C. HALLORAN, born on July 4, 1936; ordained on July 1, 1962.

After his ordination to the priesthood, Father Halloran was appointed associate pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Cranston, R.I. In 1966, while continuing in parish ministry, he was assigned to Our Lady of Providence Preparatory Seminary where he served as teacher and spiritual director until 1980. During the summers of 1973 to 1982, he directed Tower Hill Camp, a residential summer camp for underprivileged children. In 1980, Father Halloran was appointed Director of Vocations for the Diocese and, while continuing in this capacity, in 1982 he became the rector of the diocesan college seminary. In 1988 Father Halloran was appointed pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Warwick, RI where he served until 1997 when he was appointed pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Narragansett.

Over the years Father Halloran served on a number of diocesan consultative boards and committees. He also served several terms as Vicar Forane in both the West Bay and South County Deaneries of the Diocese.

Overall, Father Halloran’s ministry has been marked by a spirit of zeal and selfless dedication. In his years of association with our seminary programs, he had a role in the formation of many of our diocesan priests both through his teaching and his fine priestly example. Father Halloran retired from administration in 2007 and continues to assist in pastoral ministry.

MSGR. NICHOLAS J. IACOVACCI, born on January 3, 1926; ordained on May 19, 1951.

Throughout the many years of priestly ministry since his ordination in 1951, Father Iacovacci has been exemplary in his tireless service and pastoral sensitivity. He has been a kind and gentle shepherd to countless parishioners and a source of great fraternal support to many of his brother priests. In his service to several parishes in the diocese, including 38 years in service to St. Ann Parish in Providence, Father Iacovacci has demonstrated outstanding administrative skill, a strong concern for social justice issues and a true dedication to quality Catholic education. Over the years he has been generous in his willingness to serve on diocesan committees as well. Since his retirement from administration in 1997, Father Iacovacci has continued to reside in a local parish where he assists in all aspect of parochial ministry. Additionally, he offers sacramental and pastoral ministry to prisoners in our state correctional facilities.

Msgr. Iacovacci lives and assists at St. Peter's Parish in Warwick.

MSGR. JOHN W. LOLIO, born on January 28, 1944; ordained on May 23, 1970.

Upon ordination to the priesthood, Father Lolio was assigned to the faculty of Our Lady of Providence Preparatory Seminary where he served as chairman of the English department and taught a variety of courses including classical literature and Latin. In 1977 he was appointed chaplain at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. While at the college he attended to the pastoral and sacramental needs of the students and faculty while also serving as a member of the college counseling center staff.

In 1980 Father Lolio was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, an Italian national parish in Bristol, R.I. While there he served as Vicar Forane for the East Bay deanery. In 1992 Father Lolio was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in East Greenwich. Among his notable accomplishments as pastor, Father Lolio has expanded the program of the parish elementary school. Since 1995, Father has served as Vicar Forane for the West Bay Deanery.

MSGR. ANTHONY MANCINI, born on March 3, 1951; ordained on April 29, 1978.

After his ordination to the priesthood, Father Mancini served as associate pastor in several parishes in the Providence area. During that time, since he is an accomplished musician, he also assisted the late Dr. C. Alexander Peloquin, a noted composer and director of music for the diocesan Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. In 1991, Father Mancini succeeded as music director for the Cathedral and continues to serve in that capacity today. Additionally, Father is the director of the Gregorian Concert Choir. This choral group not only adds to the beauty of many diocesan celebrations, but has also performed internationally including at the Vatican. Father Mancini has also composed a number of musical pieces for diocesan and other liturgical celebrations.

In 2004 Father Mancini was appointed Rector of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, assuming full pastoral responsibility for the parish community.

MSGR. GERARD O. SABOURIN, born on January 11, 1935; ordained on June 4, 1960.

Since his ordination to the priesthood in 1960, Father Sabourin has served in pastoral ministry in a number of parishes around the Diocese of Providence including six years as pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Wickford. However, most notably, for forty years he has served as director of the diocesan apostolate for handicapped persons. In that ministry, Father Sabourin has been a recognized leader in promoting the best possible quality of life for men and women who suffer from a variety of physical and emotional handicaps.

While being director, from 1971 to 1981 Father Sabourin also served as chaplain to Ladd School, a state residential facility for developmentally challenged children and adults. In recent years he has resided and assisted in the direction of a small group home for such individuals. He has also assumed leadership in the diocesan apostolate to the deaf and hearing impaired.

Since 1981 Father Sabourin has been associated with a small parish mission that he has been instrumental in developing into the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community. He presently serves as administrator of the community while continuing as director of the apostolate for the handicapped.

MSGR. RICHARD D. SHEAHAN, born on February 22, 1944; ordained on June 28, 1969

Upon his ordination to priesthood, Father Sheahan was appointed associate pastor of St. James Parish in West Warwick, RI. While in that assignment, he also served as director of the regional office of religious education for the Pawtuxet Valley area. In 1972, he was reassigned to Our Lady of Providence Seminary College where he served as director of admissions. In 1974 he was appointed diocesan director of vocations and served in that capacity until 1980 when he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Johnston.

In 1986 Father Sheahan was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in East Greenwich where he served until 1992 when he was appointed to his present assignment as pastor of Holy Apostles Parish in Cranston. Since Holy Apostles was a recently established parish at the time of his assignment, his fine administrative and pastoral skills have contributed greatly to the building of outstanding facilities in service to a vibrant parish community. Father Sheahan has also served the diocese in recent years by his participation in budget advisory committees and his present membership on the diocesan finance council.

MSGR. RONALD P. SIMEONE, born on September 19, 1953; ordained on November 20, 1982.

Father Simeone served as associate pastor of St. Augustine Parish, Providence, St. Joseph Parish, Newport and St. Mary Parish, Cranston before pursuing advanced studies in Canon Law. In 1995, he received his licentiate degree in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was subsequently appointed assistant chancellor and tribunal judge in the Diocese of Providence.

While serving in the Tribunal, Father Simeone continued to assist in parish ministry and, in July, 2000, was appointed pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Woonsocket. He has also been appointed to serve on the diocesan council of priests.

Father Simeone was appointed Adjutant Judicial Vicar of the Diocesan Tribunal and was promoted to his present position as Judicial Vicar in July of 2005.

MSGR. VICTOR M. VIEIRA, born on April 12, 1942; ordained on June 11, 1967.

Father Victor Vieira was born in São Miguel, Azores and was ordained by the Bishop of Agra for the Diocese of Dili, Portuguese Timor. In Dili, Father was the visiting priest to 12 mission stations and director of a mission school in Oè Cusse in Indonesian Territory. In 1975 when a revolution broke out in Timor, in the midst of rampant chaos and mass murders, Father Vieira and other foreign priests, on the advice of the Bishop, fled the country. Father subsequently came to the Diocese of Providence and offered his services in ministry to the large Portuguese immigrant population of Rhode Island. At his request, he was incardinated in the diocese on September 5, 1979.

Father Vieira initially served as associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in East Providence before becoming pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Cumberland in 1987. In 1997 Father Vieira returned to St. Francis Xavier Parish as Pastor and continues to serve in that capacity. Father has offered exemplary leadership and ministry to the Portuguese speaking community of the Diocese of Providence.