By Claudia Mathis
ONEIDA — At 90 years old, Msgr. Matthew Luczycki, senior priest in residence at St. Joseph’s Church in Oneida, continues to enjoy the vocation he aspired to when he was a child — the priesthood.
Msgr. Luczycki celebrated his 65th jubilee on Dec. 22 at a special Mass at St. Joseph’s. He has helped out at St. Joseph’s since retiring in 1989. He celebrates daily Mass, visits the sick and provides counseling. You might even find him answering the rectory telephone.
“I was so happy to be invited here,” Msgr. Luczycki said. “It’s a very good parish. The people are devout, loving and active. I feel thankful.”
After he retired, Msgr. Luczycki volunteered as chaplain at Madison County Jail for 16 years, offering counseling and spiritual direction.
“I’m happy I chose the priesthood,” said Msgr. Luczycki. “When I was growing up, I considered other options like dentistry, but becoming a priest was my main interest.”
Msgr. Luczycki said he enjoys the lifestyle of a priest and the variety of responsibilities that come along with it. He likes celebrating Mass, teaching, counseling and helping the sick. “I enjoy working with the elderly and youth — I like being with people and being of service to them,” said Msgr. Luczycki. “I’ve sometimes served as a substitute for scoutmasters and coaches.”
Marie Magliocca, lifelong parishioner of St. Joseph’s, has witnessed first-hand Msgr. Luczycki’s enjoyment of his ministry. She helps out as a secretary at the parish. “I can’t say enough good things about him,” said Magliocca. “He’s so personable and he is kind to the young, old and the sick. He’s dedicated and loves being a priest.”
Msgr. Luczycki said that his involvement with his parishioners is very fulfilling. “I like being a part of people’s lives and their families,” he said. “I also like being invited to their birthday parties.”
Msgr. Luczycki attended his parish’s school, St. Stanislaus in Binghamton, through eighth grade. He said he enjoyed being an altar server and that his parents set a good example for him. “The thing that influenced me the most was when, the day before I made my First Communion, my father said to me, ‘You are receiving the body of Christ, even though it looks like bread.’”
After graduating from Johnson City High School in 1938, Msgr. Luczycki attended St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, Mich., and then completed his seminary studies at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester.
After his ordination on Dec. 22, 1945, Msgr. Luczycki was assigned to St. Stanislaus in Utica as an associate pastor. He continued to serve in the same position at Transfiguration in Rome from 1947 to 1953, at Sacred Heart in Syracuse from 1953 to 1958, at Holy Trinity in Utica from 1958 to 1961 and again at Transfiguration in Rome until 1964. At that time he was assigned to St. Joseph in Oriskany Falls and St. Agnes in Vernon Center as pastor. From 1970 until he retired, Msgr. Luczycki served as pastor at Transfiguration Parish in Rome.
In addition, he served on the Ecumenical Commission, the Priests Senate, the Board of Advisors and as chairperson on the diocesan personnel board.
Looking back on his priesthood, Msgr. Luczycki recounted several momentous occasions. He treasures the memory of his ordination ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse with Bishop Walter Foery. “It was a tremendously wonderful feeling,” he said. “I was finally doing what I was meant to do. I was able to bless my parents and family.”
Another highlight of his life was concelebrating Mass with Pope John Paul II in the pope’s private chapel in Rome. “I was there with a group of American priests, and being fluent in Polish, I began speaking to him in that language,” said Msgr. Luczycki. “The pope was surprised to hear me speak in Polish.”
Msgr. Luczycki enjoys photography in his spare time, an interest of his since he was a teenager. He enjoyed golf and tennis up until a few years ago.
Msgr. Luczycki, after surviving colon and prostate cancer, continues to lead an active life. “I am very grateful to God for the ability to continue to serve,” he said. “I thank God and the skilled nurses and doctors who have treated me. I attribute my well-being to the Eucharist — it’s the greatest medicine in the world.”