Fr. John Norris; longtime pastor - Catholic Courier

Fr. John Norris; longtime pastor

Father John Norris, a priest of the Diocese of Rochester for more than 55 years, died Jan. 5, 2004, at the age of 82.

Father Norris was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1921 and emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 7 years old. He attended St. Augustine’s School, Aquinas Institute, St. Andrew’s Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary, all in Rochester. He was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on Oct. 19, 1946.

After his ordination, Father Norris was associate pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Auburn for six years, then served as associate pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greece, where he remained for five years. He later served as associate pastor at Auburn’s Holy Family Parish from 1956-58 and Rochester’s St. Boniface Parish from 1958-61.

In March 1961, Father Norris became chaplain for the State Agricultural and Industrial School at Industry, where he served until June 1968. During that time, he met Sister Janice Morgan, SSJ, and the two remained friends.
“He was a man who loved life and lived it to the fullest,” said Sister Morgan, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester. “He never was afraid to state his opinion. He firmly believed in what he said and what he did. He was a strong man, but at the same time, very gentle. He was wonderful.”
Sister Morgan said she knew Father Norris as a very giving man, but also one who was very fun-loving and adventurous.

Father Norris took that sense of adventure to Rochester’s Blessed Sacrament Parish, where he was pastor from 1968-80. While he was there, he oversaw the founding of the first parish pastoral council in the diocese, according to a 2001 Catholic Courier article.

In 1980, Father Norris moved to Church of the Assumption Parish in Fairport, where he served as pastor until his retirement in 1991.

“He took the parish from the quiet village type of community into a large suburban community,” said Father Edward Palumbos, Church of the Assumption’s current pastor. “This was a special home for him and he really loved the people here.”

Father Palumbos said that Father Norris was known for his love of golfing, as well as for his frank and direct manner.

“He related to people well. Once people got to know him, they got to know how genuine and sincere he really was,” Father Palumbos said.

In 1996, Father Norris celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with Pope John Paul II and 1,500 other priests from 85 countries who were also ordained in 1946.

He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Nicholas and Betty Norris; his sister, Kathleen Glatz; and several nieces, nephews, cousins, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Bishop Matthew H. Clark will preside at Father Norris’ funeral Mass, which was to be held at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 8 at Church of the Assumption.
Internment will be in Church of the Assumption Cremation Columbarium.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, 150 French Road, Rochester, NY 14618.

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