Mourning in Providence

Staying in New England, we come to Providence, Rhode Island, where my visit took me to the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, a visit tinged with quite a bit of sadness.

I can remember the day I made my first contact with Holy Name. It was August of 2020 and I was moving my son Cormac into his college dorm for his freshman year at Grand Valley State. I snuck away to the car for a prescheduled interview with Father Joseph Santos, the longtime pastor at the church.

During the course of our conversation, Father Santos explained to me how the church serves three distinct communities, which I was pleased to experience when I visited there back in May.

But, just a few weeks before heading out east, I learned that Father Santos had succumbed to COVID in late 2021. The parish, understandably, was still mourning his passing after years of service to the Church.

Despite his absence, Holy Name was a wonderful place where those three communities – a traditional neighborhood parish, Latin Mass goers and Nigerian immigrants – are beautifully coexisting.

Just as Father Santos prayed they would.

A fire in 1965 led to a beautiful and authentic restoration.
Holy Name is the home for Providence’s Latin Mass community.

The Basilica Church was modeled after Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
Holy Name’s West African community worships at The Lady Chapel.
Rev. Lazarus Onuh, a native of Nigeria, was already leading the community when Father Santos’ passing made him the pastor for the parish.

Father Santos is remembered.

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