Thomas F. Roland, O.S.A.

1891 – 1967 (September 14)

Thomas Francis Roland, the son of Thomas Roland and Anna Collins, was born in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York, on May 30, 1891. He entered Saint Rita’s Hall, in February 1904 and was received into the novitiate three years later on July 4, 1907. He made profession of simple vows on July 6, 1908, and that same year he left for Rome to study Philosophy and Theology at the International Augustinian College of Saint Monica. He made his solemn profession of vows there on October 18, 1911, and was ordained on January 11, 1914 by Cardinal Basilio Pompilj.

On his return from Rome, Father Roland was assigned as an associate in Saint Rita’s Church, Philadelphia. Later he served as an associate in the Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, the Bronx, N.Y. He was appointed Pastor of Saint Rita’s Church in Philadelphia in 1912 after the death of the former pastor, Father Matthew Corcoran, O.S.A. In June 1932 Father Roland was appointed prior of the Novitiate of Our Mother of Good Counsel in New Hamburg, N.Y. and served there until July 1938. After a year at Saint Joseph’s Church in Greenwich, N.Y., his health failing, he was assigned to the monastery at Villanova and appointed Archivist of the Province. He held this office until his death.

During these years he served in various official capacities for the Province. On October 6, 1954, he was appointed Provincial Secretary and Socius and remained in this office until the Provincial Chapter of June 1956. When the Province opened the first Mission in Japan, Father Roland was entrusted with seeking financial help for the work and became Editor of the Augustinian Foreign Missions. He was officially appointed Secretary of our Missions in Japan until he was forced to resign because of ill health in January 1967. In November 1954, he organized the Philadelphia Auxiliary of the Augustinian Foreign Mission Bureau, an outstanding group of Catholic laywomen of the Philadelphia area who would assist in the financial support of the foreign missions.

Father Roland translated The Augustinians a short history of the Order written by the late Bishop DeRomanis, O.S.A. In 1946 he published The O.S.A. in the U.S.A., a short outline history of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova in the United States. Father Roland was a charter member of the Radnor Historical Society and also a member of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia. He served as President of the latter from December 1949 to January 1951.

Father Roland died after a long illness in Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr, PA, on September 14, 1967. Father Norbert Whitley, O.S.A., prior of Saint Mary’s Hall Community, Villanova, was celebrant of the funeral mass on September 18, after which Father Roland was buried in the new Saint Mary’s Hall Cemetery. His remains were later re-interred in the Augustinian Plot of Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken.