DE PERE — Norbertine Fr. Sal Cuccia, 78, died Nov. 17. Fr. Cuccia, a Madison native, entered St. Norbert Abbey in 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 1, 1966.
Following ordination, Fr. Cuccia, a graduate of St. Norbert College and Marquette University, Milwaukee, taught for 20 years at Archmere Academy, a Norbertine high school in Claymont, Del. He served nine years as associate pastor at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Baltimore before returning to De Pere in 2000.
Fr. Cuccia continued in parish ministry as associate pastor at St. Norbert College Parish from 2000 to 2012. He then served the parish as administrator for three years. Other ministries included house superior at St. Norbert Abbey, chaplain for the Norbertine Associates and co-chaplain of the St. Norbert College Department of Alumni and Parent Relations. He also served in campus ministry, did retreat work, presided at liturgies for special events and assisted with the planning of St. Norbert College’s Norbertine heritage tours to Europe.
He said that one of his most rewarding ministries was leading service groups as part of the college’s TRIPS (Turning Responsibility into Powerful Service) program. In 2006, he began leading men’s groups to serve at Our Brother’s Place, a homeless shelter for men in North Philadelphia. The outreach was part of the Bethesda Project, which was started at Daylesford (Norbertine) Abbey in Paoli, Penn., near Philadelphia. Each day of the trip begins with a presentation by a shelter staff member followed by labor, including folding linens, sorting clothes, cleaning and food preparation.
“I remember the first day, (shelter guests) were so surprised that nine college men would give up a week of vacation and travel 1,000 miles to be with them,” said Fr. Cuccia in a 2015 interview. “Bethesda Project’s motto is ‘Being family for those who have none,’ and that’s what these men do.”
Fr. Cuccia is survived by the Norbertine Community; sisters, Laura (Dean) Collins and Vincy (Mark Deur) Cuccia; a niece, Laurean (Thomas) Butcher; and two nephews, John (Julie) Collins and David (Allison) Walford.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Anne (DiSalvo) Cuccia.
Visitation will be held at St. Norbert Abbey from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, and continue from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 26. The funeral Mass will be held at St. Norbert Abbey at 11 a.m. Norbertine Fr. Brad Vanden Branden will preside. Norbertine Fr. Stephen Rossey will serve as the homilist. Burial will follow in the St. Norbert Abbey Cemetery.