Bishop Tobin to celebrate Thanksgiving Day Mass with seminarians in Rome


PROVIDENCE — It’s been four years since his last visit to Rome, but Bishop Thomas J. Tobin will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday week visiting with seminarians studying in the Eternal City, including several representing the Diocese of Providence.

The bishop has accepted an invitation by Pontifical North American College Rector Msgr. James F. Checcio, JCD, MBA, to be the celebrant and homilist for the Thanksgiving Day Mass, which will be attended by many of the 250 seminarians from more than 100 dioceses, mostly in the U.S., but also including a few dioceses in Australia and Canada.

“The Thanksgiving weekend is always a very big weekend at the college,” said Bishop Tobin, who last visited Rome and the Vatican City State contained within four years ago for the required Quinquennial visit that all bishops make every five years to update the pope on the state of their dioceses.

The bishop said he readily accepted the invitation because some time has passed since he has traveled to Rome for any reason, and also because it will be like a homecoming for him.

“In some ways it’s like going back to my seminary roots and this diocese has a long and a strong connection to the college,” Bishop Tobin said of Pontifical North American College, his alma mater.

The Diocese of Providence currently has two student priests completing an additional year of advanced studies there, having both been ordained last year, and four seminarians in the pipeline to be ordained. In addition, Father David Gaffney from the diocese is currently serving on the staff at the college as a spiritual director.

“Bishop Tobin will see for the first time the new addition to the college which was completed and blessed on January 6,” Father Gaffney said.

The new addition is 36,000 square feet and includes four state-of-the-art classrooms, administrative offices, a large reading and a meeting room, along with chapels for Mass and homily training.

“Bishop Tobin will also see the plaque in the back of the Immaculate Conception Chapel that marks the historic visit of Pope Francis of May 2 of this year, when he celebrated Mass for the seminary community,” Father Gaffney said.

Local priests and seminarians studying at Pontifical North American College are also looking forward to the bishop’s visit.

“I’m very much looking forward to being able to celebrate Thanksgiving with Bishop Tobin. It’ll be such a blessing to have him here and to enjoy the festivities. Thanksgiving will feel a little closer to home,” said Seminarian Phillip Dufour.

“It is a great joy for us to have Bishop Tobin celebrate Holy Mass and join us for our annual Thanksgiving meal. It is a special ‘taste of home’ for us Providence men to have our bishop lead the College in prayer and join us for this festive American tradition,” said Rev. Mr. Nathan Ricci.

“Bishop Tobin brings with his presence the prayers and encouragement of all the faithful from the Diocese of Providence. To see him will bring all of us great joy this Thanksgiving. Together with him, the brothers will be reminded of all we have to be grateful for,” said Seminarian Brendan Ryan.

“I am looking forward to the visit of our spiritual father, Bishop Tobin. As he joins us for Thanksgiving, I am personally thankful for his fatherly example. I thank God that he is my bishop and it makes me very happy that our brothers at the North American College will also meet our father as well,” said Seminarian Billy Burdier.

Father Joshua Barrow, ordained at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul last June, said it is an honor to have the bishop travel to Rome to celebrate the special Mass with them.

“I am very excited to have Bishop Tobin visit the Pontifical North American College,” Father Barrow said. “For myself and for the other Providence seminarians and priests, it is an honor and moment of pride for us to have our bishop visit and to celebrate Mass here.”

Bishop Tobin said he is likewise very much looking forward to visiting the college, which has been forming priests for service in the Church in the United States since 1859.

“I’m sure it be a nice opportunity for me personally and emotionally and spiritually,” he said.


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