Rev. Denis Lucey

Rev. Denis Lucey

1936                  Ordained Wexford

1936-1939         St. Patrick’s Dumbarton

1939-1945         St. Aloysius’ Glasgow

1945-1948         Our Lady and St.Anne’s Cadzow

1948-1954         Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Motherwell

1954-1960         St. Paul’s Hamilton

1960-1964         St. Barbara’s Muirhead

1964-1971         St. Augustine’s Coatbridge

1971                   7 November died at Law Hospital aged 60


Rev. Denis Joseph Lucey — 7th November, 1971
CD 1972 p 314


Denis Joseph Lucey was born in Dumnanway, Co. Cork, Ireland, on 7th March, 1911. After his secondary schooling at St. Finbarr’s College, Farrenferris, he spent one year at University College, Cork, in the medical faculty, but before that year was over he had decided that the priesthood was his calling. He entered St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and later proceeded to St. Peter’s College, Wexford, where he was ordained priest on the 31st May, 1936, for the Archdiocese of Glasgow.


The first appointment he received was to St. Patrick’s, Dumbarton, where he spent three years. His genial, carefree and happy disposition brought a freshness to that parish and in return it made a lasting impression on him. Though he spent less time here’ than in any subsequent parish, he often recalled that period with satisfaction and pleasure.


In 1939, he went to St. Aloysius’, Springburn, and it was here he worked during all the war years. City life was a new experience for him and his gay personality helped him face the rigours of life in a drab part of the city and bring comfort to those distressed by the effects of war. Here he had experience of priestly work in a large city hospital. This he undertook devotedly and carried out conscientiously, often in trying conditions. It was during these years that he knew hardship and fatigue: his great physical stamina came to his help and his qualities of character led him to face and master the difficult circumstances. He was sorry to leave the Glasgow parish where he made many lasting friends.


The end of the war brought him a change of surroundings, coming to Lanarkshire, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. In Cadzow, he set about reorganising sodalities and youth clubs, which had lapsed during the war years. He spent his efforts on the youth, and the great response that he got from that section of the community ensured that he left behind flourishing and active organisations. The semi-country life of St. Anne’s, Cadzow, had its special appeal to one of farming stock. A lover of the open roads and the fields, his leisure hours were spent walking the country roads south of Hamilton, examining the crops, admiring the cattle and chatting to the farmers.


In 1948, he was transferred to Motherwell, which was to become the cathedral church of the new diocese. The parish was very large and North Motherwell was soon to be set up as the parish of St. Bernadette. This was the area Fr. Lucey covered: and it fell to him to prepare the details and books for the first parish priest. Now, too, he had to become well versed in episcopal ceremonies. These he prepared with efficiency and carried out his part of them with dignity. So well did he prepare that ultimately he could sing the Exultet from beginning to end, without a book—note and word perfect. He was chaplain to Our Lady’s High School and fulfilled this task with real devotion. At the same time he looked after the Catholic Railway Guild, catering for the needs of the many railway workers: to them he expounded and explained Catholic social principles and under his guidance this grew to be one of the most flourishing and active workers’ guilds in the diocese.


Father Denis Lucey became the first parish priest and founder of St. Paul’s, Whitehill, Hamilton, in 1954. Here, more than anywhere else, did he find scope for his talents and make his mark. His knowledge of building, construction materials, land and design was that of the experienced professional. His strength, energy and drive all focused on a desolate field, and officials and workers quickly felt the force of these. Daily on the site himself, often with sleeves rolled up, he surveyed every inch of progress with his keen eye. Under his .constant supervision and prodding, the church and house were soon up. Within a short time of arriving, he knew every parishioner and received full support from them in creating their own parish and developed in them in return an independence and pride in themselves. He knit them together and he was in their midst—a happy man. In this undertaking he had marshalled much support and willing helpers inside and outside of Whitehill. Ultimately St. Paul’s Primary School was built in adjacent ground and the parish complex was a reality. Nowhere was his personality stamped so much as in St. Paul’s. He took little pride in it—actually laughing off all his efforts as an ordinary affair: yet lasting credit is due him for the wonderful way he founded and built the parish, how tastefully he furnished the church and house and how clean and bright he maintained them.’;


It was no surprise when, six years later, he was given more responsibility in the larger parish of St. Barbara, Muirhead. Here he came among a mining community and entered into their life and interests wholeheartedly. He put the final touch to setting up a new parish, cut off from St. Barbara’s, in the growing village of Moodiesburn, which became St. Michael’s: presenting the first parish priest there with enough money to furnish a house and give a good start to his building fund. While in St. Barbara’s he celebrated his Silver Jubilee on which occasion many friends, clerical and lay, from far and near, gathered to pay him tribute. He became a Religious Examiner in Schools and remained on that board until it was disbanded.


The important parish of St. Augustine, Coatbridge, with one of the finest churches in the diocese, became vacant and early in 1964 he was chosen to fill the vacancy. Everything got his attention, church, house and hall were completely renovated and decorated with care, diligence and good taste. He took great pride in this church and was continually working out schemes to enhance its beauty and improve its facilities. He had to have a garden too—and this he developed from an old backyard where once stood school toilets. The transformation was a masterpiece. He was most devoted to the handicapped children of Drumpark Special School for whom he cared in a special way and amongst whom he spent much time. During these years he was diocesan chaplain to the Union of Catholic Mothers, which under his encouragement and guidance grew in strength and fervour.


In his dealings with people he had a unique charm and winning way. His presence was a guarantee of a happy atmosphere in his own home and in public gatherings. His appearance, strong with firm features, supported him and at the same time disclosed the gentle, jovial and human priest who owned them. His assessment of character was weirdly accurate: those who chose not to accept his rating of others had reason to regret it. He worked closely with civil authorities and officials from whom he won much support and many of whom were to be numbered amongst his personal friends.


Early in 1969 he took ill. From then onwards he was more or less under medical attention. For various periods he was in hospital, and though at times he appeared to surmount his infirmity and return to active work, he soon came to realise that he never should. He tried to disguise this by working more devotedly and interesting himself in less active pursuits. Throughout all he never lost his youthful appearance and spirit.


He entered Law Hospital, Carluke, on the 25th October, 1971, in a serious condition. He had been here on other occasions and it was to this hospital he wished to return. This time he required special and constant attention, and when this was impossible to ordinary staff it was given by the hospital matron herself.


He died peacefully in the first minutes of 7th November, 1971, with members of his own family and clergy at his bedside, in his 61st year.


The Bishop of Motherwell led many priests in the concelebration of Requiem Mass on 11th November in St. Augustine’s Church, crowded to capacity. He now lies buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, New Stevenston. May he rest in peace.

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Saint Augustine's Church, 12 Dundyvan Road, Langloan,
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