As time marches on we are loosing the pictorial history of our parish, especially from 1900 until 1950. From 1900 until 1950 we need photos of St. Lucy’s Church and Cabrini School. PLEASE! If you have any photos will you share them with us? These may be construction, Baptism, wedding, First Holy Communion, Cabrini graduations, parish societies, Cabrini Sisters, or any pictures relating to our parish and former school.
Actually any pictures from any year are wanted. Remember they may not be as valuable to the next generation and may be lost forever. As part of our website and achieves they will live forever as a memorial to your loved ones. Eventually, our parish history will also be made a part of the Lackawanna County Historical Society and will be a prominent part of the early history of Scranton, Pa.
We do not want to keep the originals. If you send us the originals we will scan them into the computer and return them to you. We will pay for the postage both ways. You can also get them scanned to a disk at a drug store, Wal-Mart or Stapes. Then all you have to do is mail the disk to us. We will gladly pay for all charges relating to the disk and mailing. If there is writing on the back of the picture can you have that side scanned as well, especially if it contains the date, place or names.
We ask you make the effort to help preserve our parish history as a memorial to all the people that have made it a magnificent place of worship. Your photos can be a memorial to your loved ones.
Click here to learn about the priests who have served Saint Lucy's Parish!
History of Saint Lucy's Parish
When Reverend William O’Hara, D.D., came to Scranton in 1868 as its first Bishop, he found the city in its infancy of life. Its city charter was received in April 1866, and Mr. E.S. Hill, lawyer and editor, was elected its first mayor for the term of office of three years. The two catholic churches in Scranton, one Irish and the other German, constituted the only two places of worship where all of the nationalities had to resort for their spiritual comfort. Nationalities represented in the scattered communities were the Polish, Italians, Magyars, Maronities, Slovaks, Slovenians, Melchites, and Tyroleans.
The two churches (Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary of the Assumption [German]) were manned by three priests who covered their field of activity in a vast area comprising what is now all of Scranton from Green Ridge to Minooka including Dunmore and Taylor.
The first attempt to organize a purely Italian parish was in 1874. Bishop O’Hara was undoubtedly aware of his particular mission among the Italians when he received the Papal Rescript of appointment as bishop of the Diocese of Scranton. His experience, as Vicar General of the Philadelphia Archdiocese and as a pastor of Saint Patrick’s of that city, enabled him to understand their problem. The Italians settled around Saint Patrick’s in Philadelphia. Thus coming to Scranton, Bishop O’Hara saw the great need for someone to take care of them, especially since various Protestant sects had begun to send in Italian speaking ministers to proselytize among the Italians.
In the summer of 1874, Bishop O’Hara invited several priests from outside the diocese to officiate in the celebration he had in view, namely, to consecrate the Diocese of Scranton to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To make the celebration an appropriate one, he ordered the first priests’ retreat to be held in May of that year as a prelude to the solemnity. In attendance were 38 priests. Rt. Reverend William Henry Elder, D.D., Bishop of Natchez, Mississippi directed the retreat and later preached at the Mass of Consecration, where Bishop O’Hara pontificated. Presumably, the presence of Father Charles Cicaterri, S.J. in these ceremonies was a response to a call for Italian confession to be heard at the Cathedral.
He remained at the Cathedral for a while and later attended a reception at Saint Cecilia’s Convent on August 14, 1874. After these religious ceremonies, he returned to his former duties at the Church of the Gesu and as chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia.
Rt. Rev. William Henry Elder, D.D.
St. Cecelia's Convent
There was a lapse of almost thirteen years before the appearance of another Italian priest in the diocese. Meanwhile, the Italian immigrants were ministered to by the non-Italian priests who learned the Italian language while doing their priestly studies in Rome. Then, in 1888, Bishop O’Hara brought to Scranton an Italian priest named Father Francis Joseph Chiuso who went by the name "Fr. Joseph." Before coming to Scranton, he labored in Jersey City, New Jeresy where he assisted in the founding of Most Holy Rosary Parish, the first Italian church in New Jersey. Then for a short time he was the assistant pastor at St. Rose of Lima (now Sacred Heart) in West Brighton, Staten Island, New York. From 1888 to 1891, Father Chiuso resided at St. Peter’s Cathedral Rectory as the fourth assistant pastor with the title, "missionary for Italians." He had the responsibility for the formation of the fledgling Italian Colony of Scranton. After almost four years of dedicated ministry and travel throughout the area, the Italian Colony of Scranton was firmly established. In 1888 St. Thomas College (now the University of Scranton) was built on the present sight of the Cathedral Prayer Garden. The Italian Colony had now outgrown the chapel at St. Cecilia's Convent (on the sight of today's Chancery) and moved to the St. Aloysius Chapel in St. Thomas College.
The next area in need of organization was Hopeville (now Weston) near Hazleton. Here many Tyroleans from Northern Italy settled but had no priest of their own. Occasionally a priest would come from nearby Hazleton. Knowing the need for Fr. Chiuso’s great skills, Bishop O’Hara sent Fr. Chiuso to organize the Tyroleans in Hopeville and the Italians in Gowan and Derringer. Eventually, a Tyrolean parish was built. Fr. Chiuso only stayed a few years in the Weston-Hazleton area before returning to Most Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.
St. Thomas College
St. Aloysius Chapel
During this time many ethnic groups began to come to Scranton. Italians from Naples to Sicily now made up the bulk of the Italian immigrants. Bishop O’Hara appointed Fr. Rosario Nasca as the first pastor of the Italian Colony of Scranton in early 1891. From this point on the Italian Colony kept its own sacramental records. He lived in the Cathedral Rectory and conducted services in St. Aloysius Chapel in Saint Thomas College. Today's Cathedral Convent was built as the faculty house for the the Christian Brother's who ran St. Thomas College. On March 20, 1891 Fr. Nasca recorded his first baptism as the pastor of the Italian Colony of Scranton.
Foundation of Saint Lucy’s Parish
Father Rosario Nasca, Our First (1891) and Third Pastor (1894)
The unique honor of having established St. Lucy's parish must go to Fr. Rosario Nasca. The foundation of Saint Lucy’s Parish can be traced back to the year 1891 when Fr. Nasca was appointed by Bishop O’Hara as the first pastor of the “Italian Colony of Scranton.” He was the pastor from 1891 to 1894 (though not consecutively). Under Fr. Nasca the Italian Colony of Scranton grew in size and financial resources and began to consider erecting their own church. Also, with Fr. Nasca, the Italian Colony maintained its own sacramental records. Prior to 1891 the sacramental records are at St. Peter’s Cathedral. After March 1891 the records were kept by the Italian Colony and then by its successor, St. Lucy’s Church.
When Fr. Nasca came to the Diocese of Scranton, he first ministered at the Italian Mission (Most Precious Blood) in Hazleton from 1887 until March 1891. Fr. Nasca, building upon the work Fr. Joseph Girimondo (1885-1887), purchased property in 1887 and built the first Most Precious Blood Mission. The present edifice is on the same property and became a canonical parish in 1905.
When Fr. Chiuso left the Diocese of Scranton in late 1890, Bishop O’Hara asked Fr. Nasca to become the first pastor of the Italian Colony of Scranton. The first recorded baptism of Fr. Nasca was on March 20, 1891.
Within a short time Fr. Nasca became a beloved pastor and garnered the respect of the Scranton community. However, Fr. Nasca’s time in Scranton would be short and he had to return to Hazleton and the Italian Mission in late 1891.
Many of the new Italian immigrants were anti-clerical and anti-church. * And yet, they asked for the sacraments of the church, especially for their children. One confrontation came about when a father requested baptism for his child. Fr. Nasca asked the father to join the parish. In a burst of hatred the father threatened the life of Fr. Nasca and swore to drive him out of this country. An assassination plot against Fr. Nasca was uncovered by the Hazleton police and thwarted. From 1892 until he left Hazleton in early 1894, Fr. Nasca carried a gun and hired a bodyguard since he refused to stop ministering to his community. (Contributing to the difficulties was organized crime among the Italian immigrants. These early Italian priests were very active and vocal in opposing organized crime.)
When Fr. Nasca returned to Hazleton, Fr. Peter Bondi took over as the second pastor of Italian Colony of Scranton from November 1891 to December 1893. When Fr. Bondi left the Diocese, Bishop O’Hara asked Fr. Nasca to become the pastor of the Italian Colony of Scranton once again. (Unfortunately we know very little about Fr. Bondi and his ministry.)
Fr. Nasca continued to travel between Hazleton and Scranton all through the years. He was dedicated to both missions. Fr. Nasca’s return to Scranton in early 1894 was short lived again. Fr. Nasca, having spent himself in his priestly duties, became very ill and in late 1894 returned to Italy to recuperate.
*It was not easy for the early Italian priests to organize the Italian immigrants. The political upheavals in Italy from 1845-1870 caused much anti-clericalism among the lower classes who brought their prejudices to America. However, priests like Fr. Nasca, with their patience, courage, dedication to the priesthood and their innate abilities to be missionaries, would eventually give rise to the many Italian parishes that were erected in the Diocese of Scranton. (Please read his obituary to find out more about Fr. Nasca's dedication to the Italians in America. It can be found under “History/Priests.”)
Fr. Peter Bondi, Second Pastor (1891-1893)
We are currently doing research on Fr. Peter Bondi and will update his entry at a later date.
Father Dominick Landro, Our Fourth Pastor (1894-1906), and Sixth Pastor (1906-1908)
In 1894 Father Dominick Landro was appointed by Bishop William O’Hara, D.D. to succeed Father Rosario Nasca as the fourth Pastor of the Italian Colony of Scranton. Father Landro performed his first baptism on July 17, 1894. Under Father Landro’s capable leadership, the Italian Colony not only grew in numbers but became prosperous enough to begin planning for their own church in the late 1890’s.
Under his leadership the Italian Colony outgrew the St. Aloysius Chapel at St. Thomas College (now the University of Scranton) and in 1900 purchased the old No. 16 public school at 115 Chestnut St. (now St. Frances Cabrini Ave.) in West Scranton. Under Father Landro's untiring leadership the Italian Colony of Scranton became St. Lucy's Church which was dedicated by Bishop O'Reilly on April 1, 1900. St. Lucy's Church, as the successor of the Italian Colony, thus became the Mother Italian Church of the Diocese of Scranton.
At the same time, Father Landro and prominent members of the Italian Colony asked Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini (now St. Frances X. Cabrini) for her help. Between 1899 and 1901 Mother Cabrini made six trips to the Scranton Area to help establish the new parish and to assess the viability of having her sisters, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, operate a parish school.
The year 1900 was also monumental because on Feb 26, 1900 Cabrini School was organized and on March 20th opened with 75 students. The old No. 16 school would function as the school and church with the top floor as the convent. Years later, the house behind the school would be purchased and become the convent. The rectory was in an adjacent house to the school. Her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart staffed the school until 1971 when it merged with St. Patrick’s School close by.
In a day and age when travel was not easy, Father Landro traveled extensively in the Diocese of Scranton and either founded or continued to organize the Italian missions in Scranton, Dunmore, Old Forge, Hazleton Area, Carbondale, and Williamsport. Eventually these became the parishes of St. Lucy, St. Anthony and St. Francis of Assisi in Scranton, St. Mary’s in Old Forge, St. Anthony and St. Rocco in Dunmore, Most Precious Blood and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Hazleton, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Carbondale, St. Anthony in Freeland, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Pittston, St. Mary in Lattimer Mines and St. Nazarius in Pardeesville (near Hazleton), Mater Dolorosa in Williamsport, and others. Father Landro proved to be an energetic missionary to the Italian communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Father Landro traveled to Wellsboro, Elkland, Williamsport, and other areas where Italians had settled and either organized them into a mission or helped them integrate into existing parishes.
Father Landro was concerned about the life of his people who found it hard in America. In 1898 he began the Italian Catholic Society to provide benefits in case of sickness or death. This was of great comfort when there were no social programs available.
The May 2, 1900 issue of The Agitator newspaper in Wellsboro noted that “Rev. Domenico Landro, of Scranton, an Italian and a prominent priest in that city, spent here recently two days, during which time he visited Isaac Birriolo in the jail no less than three times. The prisoner received the clergyman courteously; but declined for the present to avail himself of his visitor as confessor. In the absence of Rev. M. J. Manley, at Elkland, Rev. Mr. Landro celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s church on Sunday April 22nd.” (Isaac Birriolo was hanged in Wellsboro, Tioga County, PA on Nov. 15, 1900)
In 1901 Bishop Hoban transferred Father Landro to Hazleton as the pastor of Most Precious Blood Mission which he founded. Father Federico Sbrocca then became the fifth pastor of St. Lucy’s Parish. Father Landro continued to travel throughout the diocese when called upon.
Sixth Pastor 1906-1908
When Father Sbrocca left St. Lucy’s Parish in 1906, Father Landro returned to St. Lucy’s Parish as its sixth pastor. His second time at St. Lucy's would be difficult. It seems the Trustees of St. Lucy’s had given Father Sbrocca a most difficult time. Having driven Fr. Sbrocca out they were ready to treat Fr. Landro the same it he didn't cooperate with them.
At this time Catholic parishes were owned and operated in the name of the congregation by elected Trustees who controlled the finances of the parish and managed the property. The priest recieved his salary and house allowance from the Trustees. As with all things human, political and moral corruption entered into the picture of church goverance. Since the Trustees hired the staff, it was natural to favor members of their own families. Also, they hired contractors who may have been family or friends. Contracts often came with kickbacks paid to the Trustees. On top of this growing problem, organized crime was attempting to infiltrate the Italian parishes to get access to the monies. Indeed, in May of 1907 the Italian priests met with Bishop Hoban on this very real concern. On April 30, 1908 the 12 Italian priests met again with Bishop Hoban to discuss the “Black Hand” matter. According to The Daily News, Frederick, Maryland, Tuesday, April 30, 1908, pg. 6; “What prompted Bishop Hoban to act, it is said, is the receipt by Rev. Domenico Landro, of St. Lucies church, of a Black Hand letter, threatening to blow up the church, parsonage and convent if Father Landro did not resign.”
On top of this, Italian immigrants from different parts of Italy carried over the old hatreds to America and did not get along peacefully among themselves. Thus, Father Landro’s second time at St. Lucy’s was very different from his first pastorate.
Indeed the Scranton Tribune on April 25, 1907 ran the following headline: Police Guard House of Italian Priest. The following threat was received by the Sisters: “ ‘We give you and the priest three days to leave, but if you refuse, after that the house and the church will be blown up with dynamite.’” This was the substance of an unsigned letter received Monday morning by the Sisters of St. Lucie’s Italian Catholic Church, on Chestnut Street, West Scranton.”
It seems the letter was in response to a heated Trustee meeting. The newspaper article stated: “On Sunday there was a meeting of the men of St. Lucie’s congregation [The Trustees], to raise money to cancel some of the debt of $7000 that has hung over it for five or six years. The meeting broke up in a row. Some wanted a change of priests, and that caused the trouble. The letter of the following morning is regarded as a sequel.”
The article continues; “In the interest of peace and law abiding citizenship, the suggestion is here made to Mayor Dimmick that he institute an early and effective police raid upon Italians who go about loaded down with knives, stilettos and revolvers. In New York city only a week or two ago the police rounded up four hundred in one day, every man of them armed, and the magistrates metered out swift justice, sending some to Sing Sing for three or four years.”
“There is a deep-rooted provincial hatred among the uneducated classes. A man from Sicily will pick a fight with one from Calabria for no other reason than that he is from Calabria. In their own country the Carabinieri, corresponding to the secret service in this country, keep strict watch on suspects, and at the first sign of violation of the law there is but a short step to the prison cell.”
The article also speaks to the good people of St. Lucy’s who also kept watch over their parish and priest. Father Landro is described in the article; “Father Landro is spoken of by all as a man of profound character, learning, deep piety and amiable charm who know him. His greatest aim is to cultivate a reverence for religion and law among his people.”
In 1908 Father Landro returned to Most Precious Blood in Hazleton. He would remain its pastor until his death in 1929.
REVEREND CAVALIERE (KNIGHT) FEDERICO SBROCCA, Our Fifth Pastor (1901-1906)
In 1901, at the age of 49, Fr. Sbrocca immigrated to the United States and came to the newly established St. Lucy’s Church. He performed his first baptism on June 30, 1901. Fr. Federico Sbrocca succeeded Fr. Landro to become our fifth pastor from early 1901 to December 1906. Fr. Sbrocca was highly educated and a very accomplished priest.
He was a professor, an author of books and articles on the education of deaf mute children, and a well known lecturer. Fr. Sbrocca was a leader of the early movement in Europe for the education of deaf mute children. Indeed, Fr. Sbrocca built one of the first institutes in Italy solely for the education of such children. For his groundbreaking work, Fr. Sbrocca was appointed a Knight [Cavaliere] of the Crown of Italy by King Umberto I in January of 1896.
Fr. Sbrocca brought his many talents to St. Lucy’s. Having been newly established it was time to organize the Italian Colony into a canonically erected parish. For this endeavor Fr. Sbrocca was well suited. Under his direction the newly formed parish thrived as it grew in numbers and the school doubled in size. Early on it was evident that a new church edifice would soon be needed. Fr. Sbrocca began the early planning efforts for a new church edifice and was very adept at raising funds for that purpose. Because of his organizational skills and fund raising abilities, St. Lucy’s Parish became more than financially sound.
Unfortunately, as Fr. Sbrocca’s work in the parish produced much fruit tensions with the Trustees grew. They began to harass Fr. Sbrocca. One such means was by sometimes not paying his full salary but only making partial payments or by not reimbursing him for expenses. The Trustees even accussed him of stealing $97.
The parish became bitterly divided between those who supported Fr. Sbrocca and those who supported the Trustees. In an attempt to calm the situation Bishop Hoban appointed Fr. Gerard Angio as the Administrator of St. Lucy's Parish in June of 1906.
However, the situation worsened to the point that Fr. Sbrocca's supporters threatented to cause a split in the parish. At the urging of Fr. Sbrocca, his supporters gave up their petiton drive demanding that Bishop Hoban reinstate Fr. Sbrocca or they would form an independent Italian parish.
The situation came to a head in December of 1906 when the Trustees accused Fr. Sbrocca of embezzling the astronominical amount of $38,000. By today’s standards that would be about one million dollars. This time the Trustees went so far as to swear out a complaint at the magistrates office and Fr. Sbrocca was forced to get a lawyer to fight the charges.
There was no way St. Lucy's could have had that much money since it was in debt and the creditors were knocking at the bishop's door. This accusation, like the previous one, had no merit other than to harass Fr. Sbrocca.
The Trustee system was replete with cronyism and corruption. The Trustees controlled all the material aspects of parish life; i.e. all monies, repairs, hiring, awarding contracts, etc. Even the Black Hand and Mafia were infiltrating the Trustee system of many parishes to avail themselves of church monies. When the priests would fight against such corruption, the Trustees often turned on their pastors. There are many instances of the need for police protection when the priest tried to enter a church or celebrated Mass. Eventually the Church did away with the Trustee system. However, several ethnic groups followed their Trustees and left the Catholic Church rather than remain faithful to the bishop.
Since the Trustees controlled all parish monies, the latest accusation against Fr. Sbrocca came to nothing legally. The Trustees withdrew their charges. However, if this latest accusation was intended to finally get rid of Fr. Sbrocca, then unfortunately it worked. In December of 1906 Fr. Sbrocca left the diocese and went to the Diocese of Buffalo where his talents were greatly utilized in the building of Italian parishes and schools. Fr. Sbrocca returned to Italy at the age of 67 in 1919 and peacefully died in Naples in 1925. His hometown of Matrice, Italy erected a plaque and renamed an avenue in his honor.
When Fr. Sbrocca departed, Fr. Landro was transferred back to St. Lucy's parish as its sixth pastor in December of 1906. In 1908 he would gladly return to Most Precious Blood Parish in Hazleton.
(For more information on Fr. Sbrocca please see his obituary here.)
The time frame involving Fr. Bellini is fascinating and almost unbelievable unless one is aware of the fierce political and regional divisions that existed in Italy during the Risorgimento. This decades old movement was one of constant bloodshed and political intrigue. Eventually Italy became a nation but it was born in division, strife, political chaos and unending bloodshed until after World War I. The political rivalry gave rise to the Blackshirts (Fascists), Redshirts (Socialists/Communists), Anarchists and many smaller groups. We know from history that Benito Mussolini, using the Blackshirts, would become the dictator Il Duce. And of course always in the shadows were the criminal element; the Black Hand (extortionists), Mafia and Cosa Nostra (Sicily). It was a time when political power was exercised mostly with bullets and bombs.
These bitter political divisions and organized crime were brought to America by some of the immigrants and played a role in the life of Italian parishes. The early priests had to deal with regional hatreds, Blackshirts, Redshirts, Anarchists, the Black Hand, Mafia, and corrupt Trustees. Often various groups would form temporary alliances to achieve their ends.
Although the majority of Italians wanted a new life far away from Italy’s strife and chaos, even they had to suffer at the hands of these groups who often gave all Italians a very bad image. Bombings, threats of bombs and assaults against the priests and churches were not uncommon as the priests fought against the Fascists, organized crime and corrupt Trustees. Indeed, it was the Italian priests who were at the forefront of organizing the anti-Black Hand/Mafia movements. For their efforts some had to arm themselves and hire a bodyguard.
All these currents of chaos and division were present when Fr. Raffaele Bellini came in 1907 to St. Lucy's parish to assist Fr. Landro. Fr. Bellini came from St. Rocco’s Mission Church in Dunmore. The first recorded sacrament by Fr. Bellini at St. Lucy's was a marriage witnessed on April 29, 1907. Also, at this same time, the last Italian service was held in St. Aloysius chapel of St. Thomas College on July 14, 1907. All Italian services were now conducted at St. Lucy's Church on Chestnut St., (now St. Frances Cabrini Avenue) West Side Scranton.
Fr. Landro led efforts in Scranton to organize the movement against the Black Hand and Mafia. He also opposed the Blackshirts and Redshirts who vied for support in the parish. It appears that the opposition to Fr. Landro came also from these outside groups. By this time the turmoil in the parish made it necessary for there to be two policemen on duty at each service to prevent volatile tensions from becoming outright riots.
It was hoped that Fr. Bellini, a well loved priest at St. Rocco's Mission, would be more acceptable to the majority of the congregation. When Fr. Landro took a leave of absence in February of 1908, Fr. Bellini became the administrator and then pastor. When Fr. Landro returned, he went to Hazleton.
Fr. Bellini was also charged with trying to persuade the Trustees to pay the mortgage on the parish. The Trustees would not pay the mortgage while Fr. Landro was at St. Lucy’s. It was hoped that Fr. Bellini would have better success as the creditors were demanding from Bishop Hoban that they be paid.
It is unclear what transpired among all the church factions but there would be no peace at St. Lucy’s Church. Even though Fr. Bellini was very well accepted in the parish he soon became unacceptable to the same forces that opposed Fr. Landro and for the same reasons. Fr. Bellini continued the struggle against corruption in the parish and the Italian community. The turmoil in the parish continued unabated between the supporters and detractors of Fr. Bellini.
Because of Fr. Bellini's great charactor and religious commitment, the spiritual life at St. Lucy's continue with great parish celebrations and parades for the Feast of St. Lucy and the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Rocco. St. Lucy's to this day still has a rich spiritual heritage because of its early pastors.
The tensions among all the factions finally exploded on Sunday, September 6, 1908. While preaching, some members arose from their seats and yelled out that they wanted a new priest. This immediately caused an eruption of emotions and the two policemen who were on duty in the church tried to calm the disturbance before all the yelling came to blows and ended in an all out riot. Fr. Bellini was so afraid and shocked by the spectacle that he collapsed. It is uncertain whether those who arose were Trustees or other factions or a combination of aligned factions. It was assumed that it was the Trustees themselves or staged by them from what transpired the next day.
On Monday, September 7th, Bishop Hoban had had enough and summoned the Trustees and leaders of the various groups along with Fr. Bellini. He reaffirmed Fr. Bellini as the pastor, fired the old Committee of Trustees and appointed a new Committee of Trustees. However, the new found peace did not last long. The politics and turmoil would continue at St. Lucy’s. By the middle of September Fr. Bellini had had enough, resigned from St. Lucy’s and left the diocese. He returned to Newark and in 1909 he returned to Sicily.
When it was learned that Fr. Vittorio Gurisatti, C.S.F. (a Stigmatine priest) was to become the new pastor there was a movement in the parish by Fr. Bellini’s supporters to form an independent church and hire Fr. Bellini as the pastor. Dispite his ill treatment by a few, the vast majority of parishioners came to love the gentle Fr. Bellini. Fr. Bellini would never support this action nor would he ever return to Scranton.
On Friday, September 11, 1908, Bishop Hoban met with the Stigmatine priests and representatives of the various factions of St. Lucy’s parish. By the end of the meeting an amicable settlement was insisted upon by Bishop Hoban and all agreed (though some did not like it) that Fr. Vittorio Gurisatti, C.S.F. would become the pastor of St. Lucy’s Parish. For his installation as the eighth pastor of St. Lucy’s Church, a platoon of 10 policemen was stationed nearby just in case they were needed. To everyone’s great relief their services were not required.
A few parishioners did leave St. Lucy’s parish. Others pulled their children out of the parish school. A few joined other non-Catholic denominations.
With the arrival of the Stigmatine fathers the process of healing began and peace would eventually come to St. Lucy’s parish. Also, at this time the role of the Committee of Trustees was ended at St. Lucy’s Church (and indeed over the next decade throughout the USA). All deeds were turned over to the bishop and the pastor assumed total control over the parish as the representative of the bishop for both spiritual and material affairs. From this point onward, under Fr. Gurisatti, St. Lucy’s parish faced a much brighter future.
Fr. Victor Gurisatti
The Pastor Who Would Fulfill the Dreams of the Italian Colony
In August 1908, Father Victor Gurisatti, CSS (Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata) began his pastorate at Saint Lucy’s, serving the parish until 1927. During that period he was assisted successively by Fr. Angelo Simeone, Father Joseph Nardon, Father Joseph Rosa, and Father Peter Cantino. Fr. Gursatti purchased the home of Dr. E.A. Heerman which is still the rectory. The previous rectory was at 115 Chestnut St. (today St. Frances Cabrini Ave).
They moved into the new rectory on Jan. 26, 1914. On May 2, 1913 the church property was purchased and on Sep. 24, 1913, Father Gurisatti turned over the first shovel-full of dirt for the church basement. Fr. Joseph Nardon, the assistant, gave the homily. The basement served for all religious functions until the year 1928 when the upper church was completed. Fr. Gurisatti was very popular with the parishioners and an indefatigable worker. His exemplary zeal did much to maintain and fortify the religious spirit of his people.
Father Francis Boland succeeded Father Gurisatti as administrator of Saint Lucy’s Parish, remaining there until the appointment of Father Francis Valverde, pastor of Saint Anthony of Padua, Dunmore, to Saint Lucy’s in September 1928.
Assisting the new pastor, later invested as a Papal Chamberlain by Bishop O’Reilly, at Saint Lucy’s Church were Father (later Monsignor) Hubert Rocchi, Father Gerald Canivan, and Father Joseph O’Brien. Following Monsignor Valverde’s leave of absence because of illness, Father O’Brien served as administrator until the appointment of the Very Reverend Monsignor Salvatore J. Florey on September 8, 1938.
The assistants under Monsignor Florey included Reverend Peter Monleon, Reverend Monsignor Joseph A. Madden, Reverend Paschal Trozzolillo, Reverend Donald Deuel, Reverend Myron F. Florey, Reverend Hugh Lenahan, Reverend Joseph Ferrese, Reverend Salvatore P. Oliviero, and Reverend Anthony Tombasco.
The Golden Jubilee of the parish was fittingly observed on Sunday October 14, 1951, with a solemn Pontifical Mass offered by the Most Reverend William J. Hafey, D.D., Bishop of Scranton at the time. Assisting the Bishop were priests of the Diocese who were stationed at Saint Lucy’s with Monsignor Florey.
The sermon for the occasion was preached by the Reverend Monsignor Francis J. Furey, rector of Saint Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Philadelphia.
The cooperation, loyalty, and generosity of the parishioners of Saint Lucy’s, made possible a program of extensive repairs and improvement. A Golden Jubilee campaign resulted in the final payment of a debt that only a few years before was well over $100, 000.
The 2nd half-century of Saint Lucy’s Parish
The second half-century of Saint Lucy’s Parish began with everything in order and things running smoothly, thanks to pastor, Monsignor Florey. The church’s membership was growing with the onset of the “Baby Boomer” generation, keeping the three priests busy. The priests also served the sisters and students of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini grade school.
In the early part of 1956, the West Side section of Scranton, known at the time as Hyde Park, began to experience what was called “caving” or “settling” problems. This was the result of the deterioration of timbers below the ground after the numerous coal companies in operation in the late 1800s and early 1900s removed coal. Unfortunately, Saint Lucy’s Church was one of the thousands of properties affected. The Diocesan engineers decided to reduce the weight of the structure by the removal of the belfry, which was located on the left side of the church. A beautiful marble pulpit, which stood ten feet high, along with marble from the altar and floor, were also removed. A steel beam was installed above the altar to reinforce the church. The church was considered unsafe, which meant the congregation was forced to attend mass in the “Little Arts Theater,” located in the 100 block of North Main Avenue and in the chapel in the basement of Saint Patrick’s Church, Jackson Street. A remodeling project soon began and within a year, Saint Lucy’s Church was back to smooth sailing once again.
MotherCabriniSchool, originally called Saint Lucy’s School, was becoming more popular and experienced a large increase in its enrollment. Also, church activities and fundraisers were offered by the Altar and Rosary Society, Church Choir, Holy Name Society, and Boy Scout and Cub Scout Troops. The parish also sponsored Altar boy trips and garden parties.
During the remaining years of the sixties and early seventies, Saint Lucy’s Church continues its tradition as one of the finest churches in the Diocese of Scranton. January of 1973, brought the news that Monsignor Salvatore J. Florey, age 67, was retiring. Monsignor Florey served as pastor for thirty-five years. In September of 1973, he was named pastor emeritus by the Most Reverend J. Carrol McCormick, D.D., Bishop of Scranton. He remained active, occasionally offering mass and performing baptisms and weddings. Monsignor Florey died on October 7, 1984, at the age of 78. His priestly example, dedication, and sacrifices will always be remembered.
In the month of July 1973, the parishioners of Saint Lucy’s Parish welcomed Reverend Paul P. Cottone as their new pastor. The first project of the new pastor was the refurbishing of the auditorium and the installation of a new kitchen area. Father Cottone celebrated the twenty-fifth year anniversary of his ordination in 1975.
In 1977, a group of parishioners joined together to form the first spaghetti supper committee. The supper was a huge success and currently serves as one of the major fundraisers for the parish.
In the 1980s, due to the reforms of the Catholic Church from the Second Vatican Council, the main altar of the church was relocated to enable the priest to face the congregation during mass. The churches carpeting was also replaced, the interior painted, and several murals restored. The grounds were enhanced with the construction of a grotto honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. Statues of Saint Peter and Saint Francis of Assisi were donated by church members honoring the deceased of their families. A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was placed in the front of the church. The size of the parking lot was increased with the acquisition of surrounding land. New front doors were added along with the reframing and repairing of the stained glass windows. A new organization called the “Parents’ Club” was formed. It currently conducts fundraisers throughout the year and was responsible for the annual Summer Festival until the summer of 2004.
The last decade of the twentieth century noted the return of the original church bell. The bell was refinished and placed on brick piers near the water fountain in the grotto. The front steps were repaired and new sidewalks added. The exterior of the church and rectory were painted. New boilers were also installed in both buildings. On July 12, 1998, a shrine honoring saint Francis Xavier Cabrini was dedicated. Following the dedication a reception was held in the church auditorium. On June 6, 2000, Father Cottone celebrated the Golden Anniversary of his ordination. He was the principal celebrant of the Mass of Thanksgiving; Reverend Albert Liberatore was the homilist.
On September 30, 2001, the parish celebrated its one hundredth anniversary as a faith community in the Diocese of Scranton. Most Reverend James C. Timlin, D.D., Bishop of Scranton, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and a reception was held at Saint Mary’s Center, Scranton.
St. Lucy's Church, prior to the removal of the belfry
Main Altar of the church, prior to renovations
Saint Lucy’s Parish – The next 100 years
The first one hundred years of Saint Lucy’s Parish were years of growth, development, and the realization of the dream of its early Italian immigrant founders. As the parish began the next one hundred years, Father Cottone announced that he would retire in July 2002 after having faithfully served Saint Lucy’s as pastor for twenty nine years.
In July 2002, Bishop James C. Timlin appointed Reverend John J. Chmil as the fifth pastor of Saint Lucy’s Parish in its over one hundred year history. During Father Chmil’s pastorate, the parish experienced a great revitalization in its liturgy and worship.
After only three years as pastor, Father Chmil was succeeded by Reverend Anthony J. Generose as Administrator of Saint Lucy’s in June 2005. Father Generose remained there until the appointment of Reverend Samuel J. Ferretti as Pastor of Saint Lucy’s Church on September 1, 2005. Due to the declining number of priests in the Diocese of Scranton and all throughout the United States, Father Ferretti was also named Pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church on West Locust Street. Under Father Ferretti’s leadership and guidance, the parishioners of Saint Lucy’s are looking forward to the continuance of spiritual enlightenment, devotion, and family values.
Father Ferretti is also bringing St. Lucy's into the 21 Century via the internet. Now lets take a closer look at St. Lucy's Church.
Fr. Ferretti also jokingly began a “Job Jar”. Work on the church that needed to be done. So far on the outside of the Church the wall behind The upper 1/3 of the façade was repaired and the façade was replaced and sealed. The leaks in the Church dome and broken tiles have been repaired. The flat parts of the roof have also been repaired and our prized Zettler Church windows (recory side) have been totally restored. Inside the Church the main Chandlier was dissembled, cleaned and restored. A new upgraded electrical service for the Church was installed. All statues were repaired and painted. The unknown statue was St. Agnello, one of the patron Sts.of Naples ( it came over from Italy with the founders of the Parish). After upgrading the dome in the Choir Loft we observed a scene that turns out to be Judas Iscariot at the foot of the Cross. You can see 30 pieces of silver falling out of his hands. Judas himself thoroughly distraught, having realized what he did. Our new handicapped ramp was completed along with new lighting around the Church and Rectory for safety and security reasons. And of course, the candle room got a makeover. As the "Job Jar" continues to be filled new projects already need to be done.