Sunday, January 14, 2007

Providence Re-Plantations

A favorite fixture of DC's clerical circuit is heading home.

It was announced last week that Msgr Bob Evans, a priest of Providence and long-serving locale (local collaborator) at the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States, has been called back to Rhode Island, where he'll serve pastor of St Philip's in Greenville. Ordained in 1973 for one of the US' most-Catholics-per-capita local churches, since 1995 Evans has served two stints at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue, with a sojourn in between at the NAC, where he was responsible for its continuing education program.

Until the 2004 promotion of then-Msgr Salvatore Matano to the diocese of Burlington, Providence could boast the distinction of having two of its own on the staff of the Holy See's American outpost, where the denizens get the daily treat of seeing the motorcades come and go from the vice-president's Naval Observatory residence across the street.

Friends have cited Evans' desire to be closer to his elderly mother as the motivator behind the move. As his new assignment is within easy distance of her, he's gotten his wish. Of course, while (as has been said out there) "the Nunciature is not a bishop-making factory," the legwork behind a record docket of appointments is the highest-profile task facing Archbishop Pietro Sambi and his staff, which has been augmented in recent months and will soon have another new face as Evans' as yet unpicked replacement comes aboard.

The new pastor leaves behind a plethora of friends and admirers in the capital. If they're onto something -- and they tend to be -- Evans' departure won't be the last we hear of him.