St. Lucy's bell rings again - Catholic Courier
Father William Leone shares a short history of the bell from the former St. Lucy Church in Rochester shortly before blessing the bell during a Nov. 13 dedication ceremony at the Padre Pio Chapel in Gates. Father William Leone shares a short history of the bell from the former St. Lucy Church in Rochester shortly before blessing the bell during a Nov. 13 dedication ceremony at the Padre Pio Chapel in Gates.

St. Lucy’s bell rings again

ROCHESTER — For years, Rita Vigliotti heard the chime of the bell at the former St. Lucy Church on Troup Street, between Tilden and Clifton streets. She grew up right across from the church and was married there as well.

"It was very family-oriented," said Vigliotti, a member of the St. Lucy Ladies’ Auxiliary. "It was just a very closely knit community, and we just stuck together through the years. We are still trying to carry on the traditions."

Several times a year, parishioners from the former St. Lucy Church reunite for dinners, trips, an annual golf tournament and other social events, even though the Italian immigrant parish closed in 1975 due to declining attendance.

Now parishioners have led an effort to work together and get St. Lucy’s bell to ring once more. Although its home on Troup Street was destroyed in a fire on July 1, 2001, leaving only the bell, cornerstone and a few bricks, on Nov. 13 the bell was dedicated for a new purpose: to grace the grounds of St. Padre Pio Chapel, 141 Frank Dimino Way in Gates. The chapel is privately owned but is open to the public.

The bell is now located in a small brick structure along with the church’s bricks and 1912-era cornerstone, and it is intended to look like the small arched gable that stood at the peak of the church.

"The bell is considered to be the voice of Christ speaking to his people, and calling his people to come and be with him," said Father William Leone, pastor of St. Jerome Church in East Rochester and a former resident of the neighborhood near St. Lucy, who rededicated the bell.

St. Lucy Parish was founded in 1912, the church and school were dedicated in 1913, and a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph opened in 1945. The school closed in 1973, and the church closed two years later.

In 1975, Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ bought the Troup Street building and occupied it until the fire in 2001. Today the lot where St. Lucy once stood is vacant.

Joe Cortese, director of the Sons of St. Lucy, explained that the former St. Lucy parishioners struck up a friendship with members of Lily of the Valley Church, and received permission to return to the building in 1995 for a reunion Mass celebrated by the late Auxiliary Bishop Dennis W. Hickey.

After the structure burned, Lily of the Valley Church gave the St. Lucy parishioners the bell, bricks and the cornerstone.

"We feel so happy that everyone can come and see this bell," Cortese said. "This is still a part of our lives."

Parishioners fondly remembered the central role that the church played in the neighborhood. Many, for instance, remembered the annual blessing of bread at Easter and the parish’s popular spaghetti dinners.

"It was a neighborhood family church," said Nazareno D’Ercole of Rochester, a former altar boy who attended St. Lucy School from first to eighth grade. "The holiday services were outstanding."

Larry Marconi of Fairport recalled processions through the neighborhood on St. Lucy’s feast day.

"Everything revolved around the church," Marconi said. "It was home. You knew everybody."

Deacon Angelo Coccia recalled walking to St. Lucy many times to purchase pasta at fundraising dinners. He encouraged those who attended the bell dedication to not only heed the voice of the Lord themselves through the bell, but to pass it on to future generations as they had passed on their Italian language.

After he spoke, the bell was rededicated with incense and holy water.

"The voice of the Lord is mighty. The voice of the Lord is majestic," the group prayed.

And with a firm push, the bell rang out an emphatic peal.

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