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Archives Bishop Lucia honored at home parish

Sept. 11, 2019

Bishop Lucia

By Darcy Fargo

ALTONA – A large crowd gathered at Holy Angels Church to offer Thanksgiving that one of the parish’s native sons has become the bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse.

The Sept. 1 Mass honored Bishop Douglas J. Lucia, who was ordained and installed in his new role on Aug. 8.
“This was special,” said Diane Peryea of Altona, who attended the Mass. “We watched him grow up. We’re very proud to have first a priest and now a bishop come from our community.”

Bishop Lucia delivered the homily at the Mass, telling the story of a Nobel Prize winner arriving at a train station in Chicago and finding dignitaries and reporters there to greet him.

“He thanked them politely and, looking over their heads, asked if he could be excused,” Bishop Lucia recounted, noting the man then walked to the an elderly African-American woman, who was struggling to carry two large suitcases. “He picked up her bags in his two large hands and, smiling, helped the woman to her bus.”

The man then returned to the crowd and apologized for keeping them waiting.

“The man was Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary doctor who spent his life helping the poorest of the poor in Africa,” Bishop Lucia said, before noting that an observer told a reporter, “That's the first time I ever saw a sermon walking.”

The Bishop noted that the Gospel readings of Sept. 1 remind us that Christian discipleship and ministry require humility.

“On a personal note, such counsel could not come at a better moment,” Bishop Lucia said, noting his new position, his new staff, his new miter and his new cross “could have the appearance of being trophies, and today’s Mass as part of a victory tour. Yet, as I stand before you this Lord’s day, the one thing I’m most conscious of is that none of this matters, and it’s all show if I don’t keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Terry R. LaValley thanked Bishop Lucia’s parents, who attended the Mass, “for the marvelous gift of faith you gave to your son,” and to Bishop Lucia’s siblings.

Bishop LaValley also thanked the Holy Angels Church community.

“Whenever a son of a parish is honored, indeed the entire parish and family is honored and joins in the honor the new bishop receives,” he said.

Bishop LaValley also thanked two priests who attended the Mass, Msgr. Leeward J. Possant and Father J. Roger McGuinness, for their instruction and spiritual direction while he and Bishop Lucia studied at Wadhams Hall Seminary College.

Bishop LaValley also recounted the story of learning about Bishop Lucia’s appointment in a call from the papal nuncio as he and then Father Lucia rode together to Syracuse to celebrate Bishop Robert Cunningham’s 50th anniversary of ordination and 10th anniversary as bishop of Syracuse.

Bishop LaValley said he kept asking his friend questions playfully, since he knew the appointment would be coming soon.

“What do you think of the bishop’s throne,” Bishop LaValley asked. “It was gaudy wasn’t it?”

He also noted that Bishop Lucia indicated he “could never live here. The houses are just so close. There’s no land.”

In a reception following the Mass, Bishop Lucia was presented a gift of vestments, crafted of gilded materials, “a reminder that in our minds, you’re our golden boy,” the presenter said. He was also presented a plaque to commemorate his ordination. The plaque will be displayed at Holy Angels Church “so we can brag about you to all who enter.”


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