Archbishop Francis P. Keough

Inducted: 2017
Born: 1890 - Died:

The Most Reverend Francis Patrick Keough, D.D., was the fourth Bishop of Providence. Keough was born in New Britain, Connecticut to Irish immigrant parents on December 30, 1890. After choosing the priestly vocation, he studied in St. Thomas Preparatory Seminary. Then, Bishop John J. Nilan sent him to the Seminary of St. Sulpice, at Issy, France in 1911 for his philosophical and theological training. After the outbreak of World War I, Francis finished his studies at St. Bernard’s Seminary, Rochester, New York. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Nilan in the Hartford Cathedral on June 10, 1916.

After service in a variety of roles in the Hartford diocese, Father Keough was chosen by Bishop Nilan to be his secretary in 1925, a position that gave him insight regarding the administration of a diocese.

Keough’s talent and priestly zeal in his varied assignments did not go unnoticed. On February 12, 1934, he was chosen to be Bishop of Providence, although he had never served as pastor of a parish. With his ordination on May 22, Francis P. Keough became one of the youngest bishops in the United States.

Unlike his predecessor, Bishop William A. Hickey, Bishop Keough was not a micro-manager. He trusted his clerical associates to do their jobs well. In a very short time, the new bishop became widely respected by his clergy, by the people of the diocese, and by fellow citizens of the state. His charm and graciousness of manner made him beloved by all.

Bishop Keough’s talent as an administrator was tested by the Great Depression. He responded by working with city and state Officials to care for the physical as well as the spiritual needs of Rhode Islanders. However, the many institutions of charity needed to be sustained by a yearly collection organized by the Catholic Charity Appeal. Through years of economic depression, wartime shortages, and post-war recession, Bishop Keough saw the yield from the annual fund appeal rise from $301,418 in 1934 to $899,018 in 1947. He used the funds to modernize homes for orphans and the elderly among other initiatives.

As bishop, Keough, reorganized the former Catholic Charities Bureau as the Diocesan Bureau of Social Services; he appointed priests to organize scout troops and to direct the Catholic Youth Organization; and he founded Our Lady of Providence Seminary on the Aldrich Estate at Warwick Neck. During World War II, he released over a dozen priests to serve as military chaplains and encouraged the sale of bonds and saving stamps in Catholic schools.

Bishop Keough’s ability was recognized by his fellow bishops who chose him to chair the Episcopal Committee on Motion Pictures which oversaw the work of the Legion of Decency. In December 1947, he was made Archbishop of Baltimore, one of the most prestigious positions in the American Church. After an equally productive tenure in that Primal See, during which he built a new cathedral and chaired the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Keough died in Baltimore on December 8, 1961 at the age of seventy.

Scroll to Top