Bishop Daniel Patrick Reilly

Inducted: 1976
Born: 05/12/1928

Bishop Daniel Patrick Reilly, a man of unwavering faith, dedicated his life to serving the Roman Catholic Church in various New England dioceses. Born in Providence, Rhode Island to Francis B. and Mary Ann (née Burns; some sources report O’Beirne) Reilly on May 12, 1928.  He embarked on his spiritual journey at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Warwick, Rhode Island in 1943. His commitment led him to the Grand Seminary in Saint-Brieuc, France in 1948, where he further honed his theological knowledge. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Providence on May 30, 1953, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul by the Most Reverend Russell J. McVinney, Bishop of Providence (1948-1971; RIHHOF 1983). Father Reilly’s dedication to his faith was evident in his brief assignment to a diocesan parish following his ordination before he pursued completing his graduate studies at Boston College. In1954, Father Reilly was named Assistant Chancellor of the Diocese of Providence and two years later became Secretary to Bishop McVinney. During this time, he was elevated to the status of Monsignor, became Chancellor of the Diocese and was named Vicar General in 1972. His diocesan offices saw him attending two sessions of the Second Vatican Council (October 1962 – December 1965) in Rome.

On June 5, 1975, Pope Paul VI appointed Monsignor Reilly as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut. The new bishop received his episcopal ordination on August 6, 1975, at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Norwich from Archbishop John F. Whealon of Hartford with Bishop Emeritus of Norwich Vincent J. Hines and Bishop of Providence Louis E. Gelineau (1972- 1997) as co-consecrators. During his tenure in Norwich, Bishop Reilly dealt with issues facing the Church such as gay rights and clergy abuse but persevered using his motto of “In kindness and in truth.” 

Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Reilly as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, on October 27, 1994. He was formally installed on December 8, 1994, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. During his tenure in Worcester, Bishop Reilly reopened a parish previously closed due to economic uncertainty and raised over $50 million for his “Forward in Faith” campaign to place the diocese in stable financial condition. In 2002, Bishop Reilly became the first Catholic bishop to open \the annual synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples but declared that he was open to discussion on giving public benefits to same-sex couples. 

Pope John Paul II accepted Bishop Reilly’s resignation as Bishop of Worcester on March 9, 2004. He was succeeded by Bishop Robert McManus, elevated from the position of Auxiliary Bishop of Providence. In retirement, Bishop Emeritus Reilly has reminisced about running retreats for the men and women of the United States Armed Forces in South Korea and Hawaii. He also spoke fondly of traveling by plane and ferry to Block Island to celebrate Mass when he was a priest in the Diocese of Providence. 

Acknowledgment: The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame would like to thank Reverend Monsignor Albert A. Kenney, S.T.L., Vicar General of the Diocese of Providence and Ms. Paula Mollo, Secretary, Office of the Vicar General/Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Diocese of Providence for the discovery of a significant error in the prior biography for Bishop Reilly posted on the Heritage Hall of Fame’s website. We appreciate the request for the correction prompting this revised, corrected biography. 

For additional reading:

  • “Bishop Daniel Patrick Reilly” (http://www.catholic- hierarchy.org/bishop/reilly.html) CatholicHeirachy.org
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