PROVIDENCE — “Gratitude.” That is the word Msgr. Anthony Mancini used to describe his long career of service to the Catholic Church in Rhode Island. Since being ordained to the priesthood in 1978, Msgr. Mancini has been connected to many communities in Rhode Island. From preaching the Gospel to composing music, Msgr. Mancini has been deeply involved in the lives of the many he has served over the years.
Msgr. Mancini grew up on Federal Hill in Providence and his earliest memories involve the Church. He attended the Holy Ghost School and served as an altar boy at Sunday services. When asked about his decision to join the priesthood, Msgr. Mancini noted, “The priesthood had been calling me since I was in fourth grade.”
He went on to attend the Our Lady of Providence Seminary for both high school and college where he became certain that this was the path God had set out for him.
“It has been great working in Rhode Island for my entire career,” Msgr. Mancini said. “I really enjoy being a part of such a tight-knit community with a unique world view.”
He noted that there has been a tremendous shift in the Church over the past 40 years, from fewer families enrolling their children in Catholic school and the Church’s strong commitment to protecting children.
“The Diocese of Providence is doing it’s very best to protect children,” Msgr. Mancini said. “These horrible things have happened in the Church and we are held to a higher standard for good reason.”
“No one talked about these issues in the 1980s and early 1990s,” he added. “Since we have begun to wrestle with these issues, there has been great progress made.”
Since 1993, the Diocese of Providence has had a protocol of reporting and investigating all instances of abuse brought to them through the Office of Compliance. The diocese established these child protection protocols nearly 10 years before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops formalized procedures to protect children in 2002. This office also reports all cases to both the Rhode Island State Police and Attorney General’s Office, a step above what is required by state law.
Mancini noted that “these steps are important to support continued Catholic education in Rhode Island. It’s important for kids to be molded by a Catholic School education because kids lose their sense of God and God’s message over time without it.”
While Msgr. Mancini has served as the rector of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence for the past 15 years, he is also well-known for his role as the cathedral’s music director for the past 30 years.
“Music is an important part of life and the Church,” Msgr. Mancini said. “It describes the place of God in life, it lifts us up and tells the stories of God and the Gospel in an accessible way.”
Msgr. Mancini studied choral conducting for a semester at the Royal School of Church Music in London, but the majority of his training came from his predecessor, Alexander Peloquin. Peloquin is a world-renowned composer of liturgical music who is credited for composing the first Roman Catholic Mass sung in English.
Msgr. Mancini’s long list of accomplishments include composing numerous pieces that premiered in Italy as part of a symposium on sacred music, and founding the Gregorian Choir in 1987, the resident choir of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. The choir has performed at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City under his direction.
“Using music to bring Christ to people in unique ways is extremely valuable in today’s society,” Msgr. Mancini added.
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