Father Alfred J. Pucci, who was pastor emeritus of St. Roch’s on Staten Island, died June 12 at Staten Island University Hospital. He was 86.
Father Pucci served as pastor of St. Roch’s from 1983 until his retirement in 2001. He then became pastor emeritus.
In retirement, he was priest in residence at Holy Family parish, also on Staten Island, until 2011 when health reasons necessitated a move to Carmel Richmond Nursing Home there.
Cardinal Dolan offered the Funeral Mass June 16 at St. Rita’s on Staten Island. Msgr. William Belford, vicar for clergy, was the homilist.
Most of Father Pucci’s years as a priest were spent serving communities on Staten Island. He served at St. Rita’s parish from 1958 to 1979. A young Msgr. Belford, who was serving as an altar boy at the parish in the 1960s, first met Father Pucci at St. Rita’s
“He was so interested in being with people in the parish. That was his greatest satisfaction,” Msgr. Belford said. “His greatest sorrow in moving to a nursing home was not being able to stand outside of church any more on Sundays.”
“He identified greatly with just being there for people,” Msgr. Belford said. “He would identify himself as a parish priest.”
Msgr. Belford related a story from his time as an altar server at St. Rita’s, when there were three priests serving at the parish: Msgr. Paul Andrews, Father Nicholas Basile and Father Pucci. Msgr. Belford, with admiration, said that there was “always unity and harmony and complementarities with these three priests.”
Msgr. Belford also recalled Father Pucci’s great sense of humor. Msgr. Belford said that when Father Pucci was shown around a residence in the Bronx for retired priests, he humorously stated, “I’m not going here, I’m staying on Staten Island!”
Father Pucci, in fact, was a native of the Bronx. He studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie and was ordained in 1954.
He held a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and a master’s in pastoral counseling from Iona College.
During his priesthood, he also served at St. Stanislaus, Pleasant Valley; St. James the Apostle, Carmel; St. Francis of Assisi, Mount Kisco; Christ the King, the Bronx; and Our Lady of Peace, Manhattan.
Burial was in Resurrection Cemetery on Staten Island.