By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
WYNNEWOOD – A wife and mother of five grown daughters, the executive secretary of the Archdiocese’s Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary always believed she would have a son.
God works in mysterious ways.
“I always wanted a little boy,” said Lucille Nazzario, 68, who last September celebrated her 20th year St. Charles where, among numerous other duties, she assists with the application process for prospective seminarians and future priests. “I just feel God blessed me – He put me in the seminary,” she said.
“I have all these young men” to care for, she said. On campus, “They need a mother once in awhile. I just love them.
“Where do you go to work every day where people smile, young men open the door for you and ask if they can help you carry your package? That doesn’t happen everywhere.”
Father Christopher B. Rogers, the current director of the vocation office, is grateful for Nazario’s work ethic.
“Behind every good parish, behind every good office, there are a lot of times hidden people who help to make the priest able to do his work,” Father Rogers said. “For over 20 years, Lucille has been a stabilizing force in the vocation office.”
When a young man first calls or comes to the vocation office, Nazzario is the first point of contact with the seminary, the first to help navigate the application process.
“She has met hundreds of young men in the office and has seen many of them become priests,” Father Rogers said. “There are many priests who, when they visit the seminary, make sure they stop in to visit Lucille.”
The second of Theresa and the late Philip Lomonaco’s four children, Nazzario was raised in Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Southwest Philadelphia, as was her husband Joseph, whom she married there in 1962.
They moved to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Morton, Delaware County, in 1967. There, they raised their five daughters. The Nazzarios are also the grandparents of 11 – six granddaughters and five grandsons.
At Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Nazzario is a member of the parish pastoral council and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. She is also a state trustee for the Pennsylvania Order Sons of Italy in America.
Nazzario said she prays daily for an increase in priestly vocations. One of her first cousins is a priest: Norbertine Father Francis X. Cortese of Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, who was ordained in 1962.
Had her love for bowling won out, Nazzario may never have worked at St. Charles. Working as a homemaker, she initially declined the full-time job because she bowled on Mondays. But then-Father Michael T. McCulken [now Msgr. McCulken, the rector of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia] was convincing.
He tapped her for the job when he was named director of the newly established office in 1989. He knew the Nazzarios from Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where he had served as a parochial vicar.
Among Nazzario’s greatest delights is attending the ordinations of those she initially knew as seminarian applicants. “Just the joy of knowing this young man who came in as a little boy has grown into this young man who is giving his life to the Lord and to serve His people is awe inspiring.”
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.