PROVIDENCE, RI – The Most Reverend Francis X. Roque, D.D., CH (COL), USA (Ret.), ended his earthly pilgrimage on Thursday, September 12, 2019. He was 90. Bishop Roque, a 21-year-veteran of the U.S. Army chaplain corps, served as Auxiliary Bishop first in the Military Vicariate and then in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), under Archbishops Joseph T. Ryan, Joseph T. Dimino, and Edwin F. O’Brien from 1983 to 2004. Bishop Roque died peacefully, less than a month shy of his 91st birthday and just a few days before the 66th anniversary of his priestly ordination, at the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Pawtucket, RI, an assisted care home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, where he had lived in quiet retirement for the past few years. He is survived by dozens of nieces and nephews.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, said:
“Bishop Roque was known for his kindness and his tireless service to others. Even in his retirement, which is the only time I knew him, he continued to minister to the men and women in uniform, their families, and the Veterans. As Christians we live in the hope of our full participation in the Resurrection. Consequently, while saddened, we pray that Bishop Roque now enjoys that for which we hope.”
Francis X. Roque was born the son of Warren E. and Mary L. Gallagher Roque, on Oct. 9, 1928, in Providence, RI. His early education began at Saint Paul’s Grammar School in Cranston, RI. He graduated from La Salle Academy High School in Providence. He spent three years at Our Lady of Providence Seminary from 1945 to 1948 and then moved on to Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Father Roque was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 19, 1953, by Bishop Russell J. McVinney at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Providence. He was then assigned to Saint Luke’s Parish, and he served that community for three years before his transfer to the Cathedral in Providence where he devoted five years of ministry.
On Oct. 9, 1961, Father Roque joined the Army. After Chaplain School in Fort Slocum, NY, he was assigned to Fort Gordon, GA, and later to Fort Campbell, KY. In 1965, he was stationed in Korea for one year, and in 1968, he was made assistant Division Chaplain for the 4th Infantry in Vietnam. It was in Korea that Chaplain Roque learned of Korean War hero Father Emil J. Kapaun, CH (CAPT), USA. Chaplain Kapaun, who was taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers, died in 1951 after seven months in a POW camp where he had repeatedly risked his life to save fellow prisoners. Many years after his deployment to Korea, Bishop Roque and Archbishop Dimino (1923-2014) brought Father Kapaun’s story to the attention of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints during an ad limina visit to the Holy See. The Congregation is now considering Father Kapaun’s Cause for canonization.
Father Roque was a member of the class of 1972 at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College where he furthered his knowledge of the military. Upon his completion at the college, Father Roque was assigned the CONARC/TRADOC Chaplains Office in 1972, and he worked there until 1975 when he transferred to Germany. In Germany, he served as Brigade Chaplain for the 3rd Infantry and later as Division Chaplain for the 8th Infantry.
After his service in Germany, Father Roque returned to the United States and became Assistant Corps Chaplain at Fort Hood, TX. He was stationed at Fort Hood for two years and then moved to Carlisle Barracks, PA, where he completed his military service.
On April 30, 1983, Father Roque retired from the chaplaincy and was elected to the titular see of Bagai and named auxiliary bishop for the Military Vicariate, until it was surpressed. The Military Vicar at that time was the Archbishop of New York, Terence Cardinal Cooke, who ordained Bishop Roque as a bishop. From 1985 onward he served as an Auxiliary Bishop to the first Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, erected by Saint John Paul II.
Even in retirement, and now in death, Bishop Roque is respectfully and warmly remembered among AMS staff. Ms. Jo Ann Redmond, longtime Director of Administration, recalls how the bishop, a tall man, would stand and walk with his shoulders slightly slumped so as not to seem overbearing to subordinates. “He was a very kind, gentle, and humble man,” she said. “He lived what he preached and ALWAYS had a smile.” Ms. Patti Hutchison, another longtime AMS staffer and Secretary to the Judicial Vicar, recalls “his kindness and smile always made you feel welcome and appreciated for the work you would do, no matter how small the task.”
Funeral arrangements for Bishop Roque are, as yet, incomplete, and will be announced by the Diocese of Providence.