Bishop Robert C. Evans was ordained the seventh auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Providence on Tuesday afternoon. Among those in attendance at the ordination Mass were his ailing mother Lolita and his friends in the priesthood from throughout the country, the Rhode Island Catholic reports.
Bishop of Providence Thomas J. Tobin delivered the homily, explaining that a bishop is anointed to be a prophet “imbued with the Word of God and commissioned to preach that word to the Church and the world.”
The “Word of God” is “sometimes comforting, sometimes directing, and sometimes challenging” and should be preached “fearlessly and boldly” in season and out of season.
He encouraged Bishop Evans to take to heart the example of the Virgin Mary.
“This holy day marks a new beginning for you, but the future is hidden from your eyes, and the path you will walk is known to God alone. Therefore, like Mary, you must have faith and trust; you must be at peace in accepting God’s plan for you,” Bishop Tobin said.
Bishop Evans, 62, expressed his humility at having been chosen for the office. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s words upon being elected to the papacy, describing himself as a “simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.”
The new bishop also thanked Bishop Tobin for his support, the Rhode Island Catholic says. He joked that while there is an anchor in his new episcopal coat-of-arms, he hoped he would not be a weight around Bishop Tobin’s neck.
“First and last, I remain a priest of the Lord, not through any merit of my own, and surely not as a career choice. I believe that each and every priest can witness to the Lord’s own words that we have not so much chosen Him as He has chosen us.”
“Of course this does not discount the theory that the Lord does have a wicked sense of humor,” he added.
Bishop Evans grew up near Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish on Federal Hill in Providence, the Rhode Island Catholic says. He was an altar boy and often a shout across the street from the rectory to his family’s second floor apartment would alert him when he was needed for Mass.
Bishop emeritus of Worcester, Massachusetts Daniel P. Reilly first met Bishop Evans at the church in the late 1960s.
“He always had a very wonderful personality; he was always upbeat. He has that kind of spirit and that sense of ministry,” Bishop Reilly commented. “The Diocese of Providence is in good hands.”
Cardinal William H. Keeler, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, was the highest-ranking prelate at the ordination. He knew Bishop Evans as a seminarian when he was studying at Rome’s North American Pontifical College.
The cardinal said the new bishop is “tremendously equipped” for his office.
“He has warmth, diligence, accessibility and genuine goodness. He’s a holy man.”
Bishop Evans only has a small family in Providence. Besides his mother, his uncle Aldo Baldiserri and his cousin Donna Baldisseri attended.
Aldo Baldiserri said the family was “unbelievably pleased.”
“He’s fair-minded, and he’s warm and approachable.”
“We’re very proud of him, and I think he’s very deserving of this, even though he’ll tell you he’s not,” said Donna Baldiserri, Aldo’s daughter. “Two bishops aren’t too many for the vibrant city of Providence.”
Lolita Evans, Bishop Evans’ 87-year-old mother, told the Rhode Island Catholic she was “walking on air” at the ordination.
The new bishop was ordained a priest in Rome in 1973 and earned an advanced degree in canon law. He has served in many administrative and pastoral roles as a priest. Between 2005 and 2007 he served as the secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.