He’s coming home!
After serving in the Pentagon and then Bryant University, Father Robert Marciano will return to Warwick as pastor of St. Kevin Church on June 1. Father Marciano is no stranger to St. Kevin. It is where he served as associate pastor from 1992-94, before being named pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church, which was later to merge with St. Clement to become Sts. Rose and Clement where he served for 12 years.
Father Marciano said he is excited to be at St. Kevin and to be working with a parish that has a school.
“I love having a parish school,” he said. “It’s a school that has lots of possibilities.”
Father Marciano said he has talked with John Jackson, president of Bishop Hendricken High School, about partnering with the school to offer new opportunities to 7th and 8th graders at St. Kevin.
“Hendricken is right down the street. They have all those resources,” he said.
Father Marciano said a relationship with the high school could be a “win-win;” with the high school gaining a feeder school while the 7th and 8th graders at St. Kevin gain access to the curriculum and resources of Hendricken. He believes St. Kevin School has tremendous potential.
“It will be the shining star of the diocese,” he said. “There’ll be a waiting list.”
“The people are thrilled that he is coming here,” said Father Frank O’Hara, interim pastor, on Tuesday. Father O’Hara retired six years ago and, at the bidding of Bishop Thomas Tobin, stepped in to assume the parish leadership last year.
“It’s been a lifestyle change for me,” said Father O’Hara.
It has also given him insight to the parish and the school. He said the parish is committed and, as an example of that dedication, he reported that, in the last couple of weeks, an anonymous benefactor has pledged to match gifts for the school up to a total of $100,000. The new money is not to be used for debt reduction but for new programs and development. As of this week, the anonymous pledge for matching funds has resulted in $25,000 in donations.
“With Father Marciano coming in at this point, it’s a shot in the arm for the school and the parish,” he said.
When Father Marciano was named pastor at St. Rose of Lima in 1994, that parish’s school enrollment stood at 110 and it was in trouble. Father Marciano credited the turnaround to the right curriculum and the right teachers.
“You can raise money as long as you have a winning formula,” he said.
He believes that exists at St. Kevin.
“I know the people, they are the gem of this place,” he said.
Father Marciano was a student at St. Francis of Assisi School as a boy and went on to graduate from Hendricken. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Providence College while attending Our Lady of Providence Seminary, graduating in 1979. Father Marciano served as chaplain of both the Warwick Fire and Police Departments and was Chaplain and Captain of the Rhode Island Air National Guard, 143rd Airlift Wing at Quonset Point. In July 2006, he left Warwick to join the National Guard Bureau, serving as Chief of Air National Guard Chaplain Corps. In 2009 he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, the state’s first chaplain to achieve this rank.
He left the Pentagon in 2010 to return to Rhode Island, where Bishop Tobin named him Pastor of Our Lady of Good Help Parish in Mapleville while also serving as Catholic Chaplain at Bryant University. In June of 2010 Father Marciano was appointed as the Joint Force Headquarters Chaplain and the Rhode Island National Guard Command Chaplain. When he heard of the opening at St. Kevin, Father Marciano sought the appointment.
Traditionally, diocese appointments take effect on July 1, but Father Marciano wanted to get a jump on his work at St. Kevin, especially before the school year ended. He has met with the school board and plans to hold additional parish meetings prior to completing his work at Bryant.
“I’m the administrator, you’re the pastor,” Father O’Hara told Father Marciano.
Father O’Hara said he admires Father Marciano’s enthusiasm, sense of humor and dedication to the church.
“He’s twenty-four-seven,” he said.
And, living up to his reputation for humor, Father Marciano observed that his plan to start early at St. Kevin coincides with the Feast of St. Kevin on June 3.
St. Kevin was an Irish priest who founded the Glendalough Monastery in Ireland, which many of its faithful visitors believe is comparable to a pilgrimage to Rome. St. Kevin was credited with many miracles and died in 618.
“It’s a sign,” Father Marciano said of the feast.
Then, when someone pointed out his heritage was Italian, Father Marciano suggested that, in that case, maybe Mayor Scott Avedisian would have the line on Sandy Lane painted red, white and green to represent the Italian flag, “like it should be.”