PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Bishop Thomas Tobin now shares the reins of the Diocese of Providence with Coadjutor Bishop Richard Henning.
The Diocese celebrated a Holy Mass to welcome Henning, enabling him to officially serve alongside Tobin until the Vatican accepts Tobin’s resignation.
“Bishop Henning, the Diocese of Providence welcomes you with open arms and a grateful heart,” Tobin said at the mass. “We pledge to you our friendship and support and prayers as you begin your new ministry here in the state of Rhode Island and the Diocese of Providence.”
Archbishop Christophe Pierre represented Pope Francis at the Mass and offered words of greeting. Pierre offered a Papal Bull to Henning, which is an official decree from the pope designating Henning as the coadjutor bishop of Providence.
“We release you from the bond of your former titular church and that of the Office of Auxiliary, and we gladly appoint you coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Providence,” Pierre said.
Henning presented the Papal Bull to Tobin and the College of Consultors, which are priests who assist the bishop with administrative diocesan matters.
“I hope I am a man of hope,” Henning said. “I hope we all are Christians who live hope.”
Pope Francis named Henning, who had been serving as auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre in New York, in November.
The announcement came a few months before Tobin’s 75th birthday in April, which is the Vatican’s mandatory retirement age. In November, Tobin said he expected the Vatican to accept his resignation in the spring, which will allow Henning to fully take over as bishop.
“I am most grateful, truly grateful, to our Holy Father Pope Francis for approving my request to have a coadjutor bishop appointed for the Diocese of Providence,” Tobin said last year.
Tobin has led the Diocese for 17 years.