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Rev. William David Folsey, O.P., died on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, at Mount Saint Rita Health Center in Cumberland, R.I., following several months of declining health. He was a member of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominican Friars), Province of St. Joseph, and of the Dominican Community of St. Thomas Aquinas at Providence College.
Born William Thomas Folsey on June 14, 1933, in Trenton, N.J., he was the only child of William Thomas Folsey and Alice Frances (Carnall) Folsey. He attended St. Joseph’s Parish School and Trenton Catholic Boys’ High School, graduating in 1951. He then enrolled in the Guzman Hall pre-ecclesiastical program at Providence College. He entered the novitiate of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph at St. Stephen Priory in Dover, Mass., in 1953, receiving the religious name David. He made his simple profession of vows there on August 16, 1954. His philosophical studies took place at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, Ky. (1954-1955), and St. Stephen Priory in Dover, Mass. (1955-1957), after which he received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Providence College.
He made his solemn profession of vows on August 16, 1957. He was then assigned to the Priory of the Immaculate Conception/Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in 1960 and his licentiate and lectorate degrees in theology in 1961 from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception. He was ordained a priest by the Most Rev. Egidio Vagnozzi, D.D., apostolic delegate to the United States, on June 16, 1960, at St. Dominic Church in Washington, D.C. From 1961 to 1965, Father Folsey was assigned to St. Peter’s Rectory in Memphis, Tenn., while teaching philosophy and theology at Christian Brothers’ College and serving as college chaplain. He then returned to Washington, D.C., and received a master’s degree in religious education from The Catholic University of America in 1966. He pursued additional theological studies at St. Paul University/University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1978-1979. In 1981, he was awarded a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (The Angelicum) in Rome. He joined the Providence College faculty in 1966 as an associate professor of theology and religious studies.
Additionally, he served at various times as assistant chaplain of the college, director of the Guzman Hall pre-ecclesiastical program, and assistant director of the Religious Studies program. From 1993 until 1996, he served as prior of the Priory of the Immaculate Conception/ Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., taught theology there, and served as chaplain for the Teams of Our Lady, which is an international movement of married couples whose purposes, among many, are growth in the spiritual life of couples.
Since returning to the PC faculty in 1996, Father Folsey served the college at various times in several other roles including assistant dean of undergraduate studies and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) faculty athletic representative. He remained active in the classroom until just a few years before his death. An avid PC men’s hockey fan over many years, he maintained close relationships with coaches, players, and fellow members of the Friends of Friar Hockey Association. He also supported the PC men’s soccer. During his forty-eight years as a Dominican friar and priest at PC, he was unequivocally committed to the college, its faculty, and over two generations of students. Usually smiling, often heartily laughing, his compassion touched countless individuals.
His body will be received into the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas at Providence College at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Visitation will continue until 7:00 p.m., when the Office of the Dead will be celebrated. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for him in the same Chapel at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. His body will then be laid to rest in the Dominican Friars’ Cemetery on campus.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Providence College, Office of Institutional Advancement, One Cunningham Square, Providence, RI 02918, for the Alice F. Folsey Scholarship Fund. Arrangements by the Russell J. Boyle & Son Funeral Home, 331 Smith Street, Providence.