Our History

In 1938, Bishop Francis P. Keough, fourth bishop of Providence, sought and was granted a charter by the Rhode Island Legislature to incorporate a new seminary in Warwick, R.I. When it opened in 1941 as Our Lady of Providence Seminary, 33 young men of high school and first year of college entered the seminary in response to God’s call. Within a few years, due to its great success, it became apparent that the seminary facilities needed to be expanded. Under the direction of then Bishop Russell J. McVinney, who had served as the first Rector of the Seminary, a major expansion and construction program was completed to house over 400 high school and college students in the scenic Warwick Neck property overlooking Narragansett Bay. 

aldrich mansionFor most of its existence in Warwick, the seminary faculty consisted of diocesan priests, religious brothers and sisters who provided the seminarians with a quality secondary and college education. At the completion of this portion of their seminary formation process, those young men ready to make the next step in their response to Christ moved to complete their education and formation at one the many major seminaries throughout the world. Once the four years of major seminary were complete, these young men were ordained to the priesthood and a life of service to the Diocese of Providence.

Through the turbulent decades of the 1960s and 1970s, Our Lady of Providence Seminary faced many of the changes that affected our society and our Church. The high school program was moved to Our Lady of Providence Preparatory High School on Regent Avenue in Providence. The collegiate program continued at the Aldrich Estate in Warwick. However, by the end of the 1970′s it was apparent that the enrollment at the college seminary was declining and that some decisions regarding maintaining the facility needed to be made.

In 1982 a seminary review committee was formed to discuss the changes necessary in order to continue quality priestly formation in the Diocese of Providence and in 1983, Bishop Louis E. Gelineau approved the relocation of Our Lady of Providence Seminary from the Warwick Neck campus to its present location on Mt. Pleasant Avenue in Providence.

The new house of priestly formation took over the former St. Vincent Center, a comparatively recently built orphanage and childcare facility staffed by resident Sisters of Divine Providence. With the departure of the Sisters from that ministry, approximately one-third of the building was retained as a day-care center for pre-school children. The remainder of the facility, the former convent of the Sisters (chapel, dining and common rooms, individual bedrooms) was given to seminary use. In 2005, St. Vincent Day closed and the seminary was able to use the remainder of the building for seminary use.

olp buildings

As the seminary continued to grow, accepting seminarians throughout New England and even as far as the Archdiocese of Baltimore, it became evident that more space would be necessary. In 2008, under the leadership of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin and the Rector, Rev. Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, the seminary acquired an adjacent property that was converted into the St. Joseph House, a dorm that allowed the seminary to welcome even more men into its priestly formation program.

Today the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence continues as a house of formation. The seminary serves candidates from the Diocese of Providence as well as qualified candidates who are sponsored by other dioceses.  The academic formation is fulfilled at Providence College, a Dominican college staffed by the Province of St. Joseph. The college seminarian ordinarily is a student at Providence College majoring in Philosophy. With permission from the Rector, a seminarian may begin his studies at Rhode Island College, a secular college nearby, but he is expected to eventually transfer to Providence College in an appropriate time.

Under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Seminary of Out Lady of Providence continues to strive for excellence in priestly formation, helping to form men of integrity, holiness and fidelity to the Church’s mission of evangelization and the building of a culture of life, a civilization of love.

Our Lady of Providence Seminary
485 Mt. Pleasant Avenue  Providence, RI 02908 USA  401-331-1316