Fr. Cuccia celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priesthood ordination on June 6, 2016. In the presence of Norbertine confreres, friends, and family, he shared the following reflection at that night’s celebratory dinner.
“Turn ‘Right’ ”
Throughout the past 50 years I have always had the love and support of my family and friends, the support and encouragement of members of the community. As I was reflecting on this anniversary on the recent Norbertine Heritage Tour, the image of two roads came to mind: the road I was on, and God’s intersecting road of events and circumstances, which called me to turn “right.” It’s God’s road so it has to be a “right” turn.
Being the only son of a Sicilian family, I think my destiny was to carry on the family name. At one point I thought of becoming a mortician … I even knew the pose. I was from a Norbertine parish but had little knowledge about the order until my junior year when I met some novices and those studying at UW–Madison. That was the first “right” turn to De Pere.
The second came in 1963. Daylesford was going to become independent. Most of the members were Italian. Not many in Green Bay. During my discernment about joining the new abbey, I met a woman after Mass one Sunday who said, “You’re Italian so you must be from Philadelphia.” I told her I was from Madison. She said, “That’s strange, your kind usually are.” Okay, Lord. So I joined the new foundation.
After ordination I went to Marquette to finish studies for my Master’s degree. While there I lived at Misericordia Hospital and was chaplain at their home for unwed mothers. My teaching assignment came not to South Philadelphia, but the “right” turn took me to Claymont, Deleware, and Archmere Academy.
After 20 years the “right” turn took me to Rome and our Generalate, which led to a semester sabbatical at Louvain, Belgium, and the opportunity to visit a number of our European abbeys.
After many long-distance discussions with my abbot, I returned to Daylesford Abbey as director of liturgy. This was followed by two years in Washington, D.C., as master of professed.
The next “right” turn took me north to Baltimore and nine years as the associate pastor. When I would return to Wisconsin to visit my family, I would come here [to St. Norbert Abbey] for a visit. One Norbertine would always ask if I was here for a transitus—a transfer to St. Norbert Abbey. In 2000 I was here for a visit, saw him, and told him I was here for a transitus.
The “right” turn came in May of 2000 when I returned to De Pere, spent six weeks covering the parish in Albuquerque, then returned as the associate pastor of St. Norbert College (SNC) Parish and a member of the campus ministry team. For 10 years I was involved in an SNC men’s service trip to a homeless shelter in Philadelphia, which was like a roundabout with many of the roads coming together.
After 15 years I retired from the parish. Twenty-four years as associate pastor; there should be an award for probably the longest-serving associate in the history of the Church!
At the present time I serve as house superior and sub-prior. I am involved in planning the Norbertine Heritage Tours contacting the Norbertine houses. I work with Alumni and Parent Relations at the college. Only God knows when the next “right” turn will come.
Read about the good and faithful friendship between Norbertines Fr. Colavechio, Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem., Fr. Savlatore Cuccia, O. Praem., and Fr. Brian Prunty, O. Praem., in “A Lifetime Friendship” by Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem., in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 4-6).