Father Rufino Lecumberri, pastor of St. Joseph’s parish on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx for 15 years, died Jan. 20 in Spain. He was 87.
Father Lecumberri served at St. Joseph’s from 1994 until his retirement in 2009. Following his retirement, he served as pastor emeritus of St. Joseph’s and was in residence at Sacred Heart, the Bronx.
He was parochial vicar of St. Augustine, the Bronx, 1988-1994; St. Lucy, Manhattan, 1987-1988; St. Gregory the Great, Manhattan, 1983-1987; and Blessed Sacrament, Manhattan, 1979-1983.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 21 at St. Fermin Church in Spain. A Memorial Mass was offered Jan. 26 at Sacred Heart Church, the Bronx, with retired Auxiliary Bishop Josu Iriondo as celebrant and Father Santiago Rubio, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Manhattan, as homilist. Father Rubio said he has known Father Lecumberri for about 10 years.
“We met at Sacred Heart in the Bronx,” Father Rubio said. “I was a parochial vicar there when he was there. We used to go out for dinner from time to time and talk about Sacred Heart. He was always willing to help.
“He was a very responsible person, a kind person and a good friend. He was willing to listen to people and was prepared for his Masses.”
Father Rubio said having a Spanish-speaking priest like Father Lecumberri in a Spanish-speaking community is important.
“Here in New York, it’s very important,” said Father Rubio, who is Mexican. “When you find somebody who speaks your language, you will feel confident and will communicate. Being able to communicate with people is very important. That is why he was treasured here.”
Born in San Martin de Unx, Spain, Father Lecumberri was ordained a Piarist Father in Spain in 1954, and was incardinated in the archdiocese in 1981.
His brothers, Antonio, Jose and Adrian, survive him.
His remains were cremated in Pamplona.