Rhode Island diocese 'rejoices' as Pope appoints auxiliary

Msgr. Robert C. Evans today was named auxiliary bishop in his home diocese of Providence, R.I. At a press conference today, the bishop-elect spoke of his gratefulness for the new appointment and assured the faithful in the diocese of his prayers.

“On the day of my ordination to priesthood I made a solemn promise to obey and respect my bishop,” he remarked. “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.”

Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, the sole bishop of the diocese since he was assigned there in 2005, also spoke at the press conference saying that he, as well as the diocese, “rejoices” at the announcement of the new appointment, noting the strong leadership abilities of the bishop-elect.

“Bishop-elect Evans is highly qualified to assume the Office of Bishop and this new position of leadership in our Church,” Bishop Tobin said in his statement. “He possesses remarkable gifts and talents, and has demonstrated time and time again his commitment as a faithful Priest of Jesus Christ.”

According to the Rhode Island Catholic, though he was born in the state of Georgia, Bishop-elect Evans, 62, attended schools in Providence until he was sent to study in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1969. There, he completed his seminary studies and was ordained a priest in 1973 for the Diocese of Providence.


After serving for several years in the parishes and as secretary to the bishop, he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law and received his licentiate in 1989.

Following his return to Rhode Island, the bishop-elect served as vice-chancellor and later chancellor of the diocese. In 2001 he traveled back to Rome to work as director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education and as part of the faculty at the North American College in Rome.

Msgr. Evans served as Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. between the years of 2005 and 2007. He currently works as pastor of a diocesan church and as an adjunct faculty member at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence.

The bishop-elect noted that in each of the ministries where he has served, “I have attempted, using my own meager talents, to do the work of the Good Shepherd, who both comforts and challenges those entrusted to his care.”

He continued explaining that 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 explained. “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.”

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Msgr. Evans is currently scheduled to be consecrated a bishop on January 5, however the date is subject to change. In the diocese, he will assist Bishop Tobin in leading 651,000 Catholics, 390 priests and 104 religious.

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