Father Fidelis Rice, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1908-1978)

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Born Philip J. Rice in Berwick, Maine on December 8, 1908, he professed his Passionist vows on August 15, 1929. His religious name was Fidelis. He was ordained on May 30, 1936. In Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1942 he was the Diocesan Director of the Women’s Retreats and Chaplain at St. Gabriel’s Retreat House for Women. While there he persuaded the rector of St. Ann’s Monastery to put the St. Ann’s Novena on radio station WGBI in Scranton. Some said this was too ambitious but with his determination he succeeded and his love with the media began. In 1952 he was professor of homiletics in West Springfield. There he inaugurated Lenten meditations on the passion of Jesus on radio station WREB in Holyoke, Massachusetts. This developed into “The Hour of the Crucified.” and later “Crossroads.” At its peak it was broadcast on over five hundred radio stations throughout the world and on the Armed Forces Radio Network. In 1954 Father Rice was asked by TV Station WWLP of Springfield, Massachusetts to conduct the “Three Hour Agony Devotion” on Good Friday. Probably the first time it had been preached on television, eventually this developed into a weekly television Mass and “The Chalice of Salvation.”. He was also one of the pioneers of the Catholic Broadcasters Association. He loved the study of Sacred Scriptures and classical music. He died quite suddenly from a massive stroke. Just before his death he completed a manuscript entitled “I Lept Over the Wall” which described the waiting process for God’s healing during a stroke.