Sons of Providence

The Foundation of Providence College

On February 14, 1917, Providence College was officially incorporated by a vote of the Rhode Island General Assembly. Approval from the Holy See followed. The founding of the college was the fulfillment of the dream of Bishop Matthew Harkins, the second bishop of the Diocese of Providence. Bishop Harkins wished to establish an institution of higher education, especially for the young Catholic men of the diocese. 
Nevertheless, Providence College would be an institution that also welcomed non-Catholic students. The official charter explicitly stated that “no person shall be refused admission…on account of the religious opinions he may entertain” (Sec. 7).
The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) known for their dedication to a robust liberal arts education accepted Bishop Harkins’ invitation to staff the college. Rev. James Raymond Meagher, O.P., provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, agreed with Bishop Harkins that a Catholic college would serve as an alternative to Brown University: “It is true that in the city of Providence there already exists a celebrated secular university but because of the doctrine taught there, no little danger presents itself to Catholic students.” (McCaffrey 1992)
After some delays resulting from construction and World War I, the first all-male incoming class of seventy-one students entered Providence College on September 18, 1919. 

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