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Thomas Reginald Peterson, O.P.

Thomas Reginald Peterson, O.P.

Birth: June 17, 1929

Profession: September 15, 1950

Ordination: June 8, 1956

Died: October 22, 2000

Thomas Francis Peterson was born in Newark, NJ to William and Mathilda (Collins) Peterson. He was educated at St. Antoninus Grammar School (1936-43) and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School (1943-47) both in that city, before entering Providence College as a pre-ecclesiastical student (1947-49). In 1949 he entered the novitiate of St. Joseph’s Province at St. Rose Priory, Springfield, KY receiving the religious name, Reginald. He made his first profession there the following year. He studied philosophy at St. Joseph Priory, Somerset, OH (1951-54) and theology at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC (1954-57). It was in that city that he was ordained to the priesthood at St. Dominic’s Church by Celestine Daly, O.P. Bishop of Des Moines.

Fr. Peterson spent his entire priestly life in the education ministry.  After completing his theological studies he was assigned to Providence College, Providence, RI (1957). For the next thirty-three years (1957-90) he taught theology and philosophy as well as holding numerous academic posts: Assistant Dean and later Dean (1962-71) and President (1971-85). From 1966-68 he studied graduate philosophy at the Aquinas Institute, River Forest, IL receiving a Ph.D. After completing his tenure as President he was a scholar in residence at Seton Hall University, So. Orange, NJ as well as visiting professor at Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. (1985-86) He returned to Providence College as Professor of Philosophy in 1987 until he was chosen Chancellor and President of Seton Hall University in 1990. Later, these two positions were separated and Fr. Peterson remained as Chancellor until his retirement in 2000.

Failing health caused him to be assigned once again to Providence College with residency at Hopkins Manor Nursing Home in North Providence, RI. Later he was moved to Scalabrini Villa Nursing Home in North Kingstown, RI where he died in his 71st year and 50 years as a Dominican. His Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Pius V Church across from the campus of Providence College by the Most Rev. Louis E. Gelineau, retired Bishop of Providence. The homily was preached by his brother, Fr. John S. Peterson, O.P. His body was laid to rest in the Friars’ Cemetery on the Providence College campus.

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