Mount Saint Peter Roman Catholic
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Nicola
(Taken from the October, 1996 issue of "The
Barque of Peter, ")
- November 3, 1996, marks the 25th anniversary of Rt.
Rev. Msgr. Nicola Fuscoīs death. After 48 years of being with his parish, at
age 84, he met an unexpected death in an automobile accident four miles west
of New Alexandria, PA. Since November 2 was All Souls Day and his
anniversary date follows this church holiday, it is a good time to remember
Msgr. Fusco along with other deceased in our family parish.
- All Souls Day is when we consider what St. John
Chrysostom said as quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Let us
help and commemorate them. If Jobīs sons were purified by their fatherīs
sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them
some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to
offer our prayers for them."
- It is also timely that we are embarking upon a
period of building restoration. Msgr. Fusco is most responsible for the
construction of our parish plant. We look back briefly upon his life on
Earth and the legacy he left for the people he loved.
- Msgr. Fusco was born on July 12, 1887, in Formicola,
Italy - a town between Rome and Naples. He was ordained a priest on July 2,
1912, and was assigned to various parish positions in western Pennsylvania.
He was appointed pastor of St. Peter Parish on September 7, 1923. This was a
period of good times in New Kensington, yet a time of turmoil.
- There were about 10,000 Italians in the boroughs of
New Kensington, Parnassus and Arnold when Fr. Fusco arrived. Of the 10,000
Italians in the district, records show that only about 100 attended Mass on
Sundays and a mere 13 families contributed to the support of the little
frame church at Ridge Avenue and Constitution Boulevard.
- Msgr. Fuscoīs 48 years in New Kensington were marked
by a multitude of achievements. Under his leadership, the debt on the little
frame church was paid off by 1925; catechetical classes were formed at
various locations in the valley; a mission church was established in
Braeburn; and a new church, rectory, convent and school were
- Msgr. Fusco was a writer and editor. He authored
many books. His first book, "Vairazioni," was published in 1917. He then
became editor in 1922 of "La Trinacria," a Catholic weekly. He published a
second book, "Formicola," and was appointed coeditor in 1924 of "II
Crociatio," a Catholic weekly in New York.
- In 1944 Msgr. Fusco published another book, "Mount
St. Peter of New Kensington," "La Storia de Cristo" in 1946, "Testimonianze
Francescane" in 1947, and "John is His Name," a survey of all popes by that
name, in 1954.
- One of his most memorable achievements was the
building of the present Mt. St. Peter Church on a high knoll at Freeport
Road and Seventh Street. Many skeptics watched as this energetic priest,
operating on a shoestring budget, led the congregation in the building of a
magnificent church from material salvaged from the 65-room Mellon mansion in
- The new Mt. St. Peter Church was dedicated July 4,
1944, and thousands traveled from many states to view the architectural
wonder painstakingly pieced together from truckloads of Michigan red
sandstone, 30 tons of steel beams, 65 oak doors, slabs of precious,
elaborately carved marble, pieces of delicate alabaster, marble pillars and
- Msgr. Fusco headed the construction of a church with
some of the costliest materials imaginable while his parish was very short
- In 1959 Fr. Fusco was appointed a Domestic Prelate
by Pope John with the title "Monsignor." He journeyed to Rome many times to
help plan and take an active part in the Second Vatican Council which began
in the fall of 1962.
- Msgr. Fusco had a reputation for keeping "in tune
with the times" despite his age. Small children idolized him for he was
never stingy with a loving pat, kind word or friendly hug and teenagers
- He retired June 27, 1969, as he approached his 57th
year in the priesthood. At that time he became pastor emeritus of Mt. St.
- Msgr. Fusco will always be remembered as the
physical and spiritual architect of Mt. St. Peter parish. Not only did he
serve his congregation, he served God and all mankind very well.