Fr. Marciano joins leaders recognized with Verrazzano distinction

Posted 5/18/23

Soon to be honored at the 61st Annual Verrazzano Day Banquet, Father Robert L. Marciano cannot help but remain humble in light of esteemed past recipients.

“I am honored to be among such …

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Fr. Marciano joins leaders recognized with Verrazzano distinction


Soon to be honored at the 61st Annual Verrazzano Day Banquet, Father Robert L. Marciano cannot help but remain humble in light of esteemed past recipients.

“I am honored to be among such great Rhode Islanders,” he disclosed. He credits past recipients with high admiration, and even confessed that he “accepted [the award] only because they prevailed it to me.”

Father Marciano is Pastor of Saint Kevin Church in Warwick and President of Bishop Hendricken High School – the high school he attended as a member of the Class of 1975. He views this Verrazzano Day Award as “very prestigious.” 

During his career, Fr. Marciano served as Chaplain for both Warwick and Providence Fire Departments, as well as Warwick Police Department. He is a retired Colonel of the Rhode Island Air National Guard and the Past Command Chaplain for the Rhode Island Army and Air National Guard. He was sent to the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack. He was deployed to Iraq. 

Sponsored by the Verrazzano Day Observance Committee, the Verrazzano Day Banquet will take place this  Sunday, May 21, at the Quonset “O” Club in North Kingstown. A 6:00 p.m. cocktail hour will precede the dinner and award ceremony at 7:00 p.m.

Banquet ticket sales, which were set at $65 per person, go towards a scholarship fund for the Verrazzano Day Observance Committee, according to District 21 Representative and Co-Chairman of Event Committee, Camille Vella Wilkinson.

Fifty-eight individuals have been recognized with the award since it was first presented in 1962. In 1970, Rhode Island’s 64th Governor Christopher Del Sesto was recognized; in 2003, former Chief Justice of Rhode Island Supreme Court Frank J. Williams was awarded; and, in 2013, Mayor of North Providence Charles A. Lombardi was honored.

Fr. Marciano is not the first priest to be chosen for this distinction. Reverend Flaminio Parenti, C.S. was recognized in 1967, Reverend Monsignor Anthony L. Dimeo in 1972 and Reverend Father Alfred C. Lonardo in 2011.

The Verrazzano Day Observance Committee aims to “perpetuate the achievements of Giovanni da Verrazzano, a noted Italian Navigator, and the fostering of public recognition of outstanding personalities of the State of Rhode Island,” as told by the nonprofit’s Facebook group page.

In 1524, Italian explorer Verrazzano discovered the Narragansett Bay one hundred years before the arrival of the Pilgrims. In a progress report to King Francis I, he reported he found an island strongly resembling the “Isle of Rhodes,” which is in modern day Greece  – leading way to the creation of Rhode Island’s name.

Because Verrazzano is attributed with naming Rhode Island, Verrazzano Day Award recipients are honored for their leadership contributions to the Rhode Island community, particularly those providing impact towards community progress and welfare.

Vella-Wilkinson added award recipients must be Italian-Americans. In 2022, she was the first female veteran in 60 years to receive the award.

The black tie optional event will additionally highlight keynote speaker Frank Flaherty, former mayor of Warwick and retired Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice. Flaherty, an alum of the Hendricken Class of 1964, called Fr. Marciano an “exemplary choice” for the award.

“He is a man that’s very active and has done a lot for the community,” Flaherty said.

Moreover, he stated that Fr. Marciano is a great example of what Italian immigrants, like Giovanni da Verrazzano, have done for the country. Fr. Marciano’s grandparents are Italian immigrants, and Flaherty plans to integrate pieces of that personal history into the broader themes of his speech.

Fr. Marciano was nominated for the award by several people; because of his previous works and the contributions he has made, Vella-Wilkinson said that “many people had heard of him anyway,” along with his “phenomenal reputation,” even if they did not live in Warwick.

When the 2023 recipient decision was down to two candidates, Marciano took a profound victory in the second vote, Vella-Wilkinson said.

As the president of Bishop Hendricken High School, Fr. Marciano works to instill valuable messages into his students, many of which are mirrored in the Verrazzano Day Awards.

“I would encourage them to be men of faith…use their lives to help others,” Fr. Marciano said Tuesday.

Being a Hendricken alum, Fr.  Marciano also holds a firm idea on what it truly means to be a Hendricken student.

“A Hendricken man does what is right, no matter the cost,” he declared.

The Verrazzano Day Observance Committee works under joint sponsorship with the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, Order Sons of Italy in America, and the Department of Rhode Island Italian American War Veterans of the United States, Incorporated, according to their Facebook group page.

These organizations established the Verrazzano Day Award as well.

Marciano, leaders, Varrazzano


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