Bishop Robert Evans ordained in Providence
By Father Robert M. O’Grady
A native son of the Renaissance City where he was born Sept. 2, 1947 and a priest of the statewide Providence Diocese since July 2, 1973 when Bishop James Hickey ordained him a priest at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Most Rev. Robert C. Evans was ordained auxiliary bishop of Providence and titular bishop of Aquae Regiae. He is the eighth auxiliary bishop in the 137 year history of the diocese.
During elementary school he attended the city’s public schools in the overwhelmingly Italian and Italian-American neighborhood known as Federal Hill. He is a son of the venerable Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish there and readily attributes, at least in part, his priestly vocation to the priests who served there during his youth. After a year at LaSalle Academy he went to Our Lady of Providence seminary high school and college; he did his theological preparation for ordination at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he was a student, with his residence and further formation at the Pontifical North American College. He returned to Rome some years later to complete a degree in Canon Law.
He is the fifth member of his 1973 North American College ordination class to be ordained a bishop. In an interesting twist, the bishop who ordained him at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral on Dec. 15, Providence’s diocesan bishop Thomas Tobin, is one of those classmates. Another of his bishop-classmates said, “We knew he’d be a bishop, we just thought he’d be the first!”
Assisting Bishop Tobin were Providence’s former bishop, Louis Gelineau for whom Bishop Evans once served as priest secretary and master of ceremonies; and Bishop Salvatore Matano, a Providence native and bishop of Burlington, Vt. Among the concelebrating bishops and representing the archdiocese were Bishops Walter Edyvean, John Dooher and Robert Hennessey.
Priests who have been friends for a number of years or only a few seem to be universal in their praise of the new bishop’s gifts. “Priestly model,” “ever ready smile,” “loves people,” “loves priests,” “good cook,” “not impressed with himself,” “great sense of humor,” “ready and quick wit.”