via Memorial Funeral Home

Dom Francis Crowley, OSB, 78, of Portsmouth Abbey, passed away on August 14, 2019 at RI Hospital after a brief illness.

Born James E. Crowley in Providence, RI to Daniel Crowley and Eleanor (Sauter) Crowley in 1940, he grew up in Providence and began his education at LaSalle Academy. He graduated in 1958 and continued to Providence College where he began his studies in Chemistry. He continued with a Master’s Degree at Brown, and returned to Providence College for his PhD in Organic Chemistry. During his advanced studies he found joy as a teacher, with positions at Cranston West and Moses Brown School, and later at Roger Williams College and Rhode Island College. In 1970, he entered the private sector, and began a 20 year career with CIBA-GEIGY Corporation, from which he retired in 1991 as a Corporate Director.

As Brother Francis was fond of saying, he entered the monastery a mere forty minutes after he retired on his last day of work. At Portsmouth, Brother Francis taught in the Science and Christian Doctrine departments, putting the young Third Form students through the paces in Conceptual Physics. He reveled in teaching, and said “the best part about being a teacher at Portsmouth Abbey is that I finally realized my job here is to simply love the students and let them share their joy of discovery of science with me.” He knew that this joy could only be experienced through the often painstaking adherence to the steps. Though this was frustrating for many, the students knew that he loved them. This was even more conceptual or foundational than the science. He would say audaciously, over and over again: I love you.

For 15 years, Brother Francis also served as the community’s master of ceremonies, overseeing the liturgies and celebrants and altar servers with exacting precision and a keen eye for detail. He demanded much from his servers, but he was always quick with his sincere and joyous laud — “terr-rific” for a job well done. He said “I love the students like a grandparent; I love to see them come, and I love to see them go…and when they are away, I miss them.”

James is survived by two daughters Lisa Crowley of New London, CT and Michaela Duhamel and her husband Todd of Wakeforest, NC, and a sister Barbara Crowley of Bristol, RI. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Daniel Crowley of Warren, RI. Other family include: Jeff Burton, Tyler and Debbie Marchetti, of East Greenwich RI, Ashley, Brian and Race James Roderick of Smithville, TX.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, August 23, 2019, at 10:00 AM at Portsmouth Abbey, Church of St. Gregory the Great.

Online tribute at