Outside of Everywhere
Not being a connoisseur of biographies, I’m finding G. Wayne Miller’s series on Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin more interesting than I expected. One result has been a new resolve to pay closer attention, and perhaps submit writing, to the diocesan newspaper, Rhode Island Catholic. That being the case, I’m not sure what to make of this:
The bishop would keep a close hand in the rebirth, but many of the details would fall to his communications director, Michael K. Guilfoyle, who had replaced the retiring William Halpin in late 2005. Guilfoyle was one of the bishop’s earliest appointments. He was a further sign of the importance Tobin placed on the media.
Guilfoyle, 30 at the time, was a practicing Catholic, and he’d graduated from a Benedictine college, Saint Anselm, in Manchester, N.H. But he was no religious shill. He’d made his mark in the secular world, first as press secretary for U.S. Rep. Robert Weygand, then as director of communications for Weygand’s successor, Rep. James Langevin. He was communications director for Sheldon Whitehouse’s young senatorial campaign when the bishop hired him. Reporters respected Guilfoyle. Some could not understand why he had taken a position as spokesman for a bishop.
But Guilfoyle had tired of the political world, with its incessant demands on a man with a young family. He had never met Bishop Tobin, but when he did, after being recommended by a search committee, he liked the man. He liked the work of the Church and the opportunity to be “proactive,” as he would later describe it, in sending a positive message after years of headlines detailing the horrors of the priest sex-abuse scandal.
“Whether it is promoting the important role Catholic schools play in educating our youth, or the work of the church to help the disadvantaged, among countless other good deeds and charitable works,” Guilfoyle said when he was appointed, “the Diocese of Providence is a vibrant faith community that serves all of Rhode Island.”
From Sheldon to the bishop. I note that Guilfoyle does not list the diocese’s firm stand on Catholic cultural issues among the examples of its vibrancy.
Presumptuous though it may be, I have to admit some relief that he is not among the contacts for the paper.