Robert Emmet Lucey

Archbishop Robert Emmet Lucey (16 March 1891 – 1 August 1977) was the second Bishop of Amarillo and the second Archbishop of San Antonio.[1]

Styles of
Robert Emmet Lucey
Mitre plain 2.png
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleHis Excellency
Religious styleMonsignor
Posthumous stylenot applicable

Early yearsEdit

Lucey was born in Los Angeles, California to the parents of John Joseph and Marie Lucey on March 16, 1891. He began his college education at St. Vincent's College and completed the rest at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park in 1912. Robert completed his graduate studies at North American College in Rome and in 1916, received his doctorate in Sacred Theology at the University of the Propaganda in Rome. On May 14, 1916 Robert Lucey was ordained a priest in the Church of St. Apollinaris in Rome. Archbishop Cepetelli, Patriarch of Constantinople and Vice Regent of Rome conducted the ordination. Lucey returned to Los Angeles where he held a series of positions that would serve as experience as a bishop.[2]

Years as a Pastor: The Californian YearsEdit

During the next five years in Los Angeles, Father Lucey was assistant pastor of several parishes which included St. Vibiana's Cathedral, Immaculate Conception Parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, and St. Anthony's in Long Beach. It was in Los Angeles that he gained numerous opportunities that helped him gain experience and knowledge in matters of social doctrine between the church and state. Among the positions that he held were Chaplain of the Newman Club at the University of Los Angeles and Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities (1921–1925), President of the California Conference of Social Work (1923–24), director of Catholic Hospitals for the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego (1924–34), and member of the Executive Board of the California State Department of Social Welfare (1924–30) appointed by the governor of California. The Catholic Church in Rome had plans for him as he was appointed Bishop of Amarillo on February 10, 1934 by Pope Pius XI. These plans included specific ways to educate social doctrine to the community on matters of faith and social justice. Father Lucey received this opportunity in Amarillo and San Antonio, Texas.[3]

Years as a BishopEdit

One may argue that Lucey's years in California were formative years in propagating Catholic doctrine in society. As a bishop he created several institutions and vehicles that left a strong imprint in Texas that lasted even till this today. On March 1, 1934, after Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the U.S., consecrated him bishop at St. Vibiana's Cathedral in Los Angeles he began to work on ways to bring the community aware of the Catholic Church in Amarillo. To better inform readers on Catholic news in the U.S. and around the world he established a newspaper called the Texas Panhandle Register. To bridge the gap between parish priests and lay people he either created or supported organizations such as Catholic Action, a lay ministry group, created the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and constructed the first parish in Amarillo to serve the needs of the African-American community. However, bigger plans were needed as he was next appointed the second Archbishop in San Antonio, Texas to serve the community in 1941.

On January 23, 1941 Pope Pius XII appointed Bishop Lucey as Archbishop of San Antonio. His installation, again presided over by Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, took place at the Cathedral of San Fernando on March 27, 1941. The first ten years of Archbishop Lucey in San Antonio proved busy yet fruitful because a variety of work was accomplished in so short a time. Indeed, so much work was done that he may be labeled as "The Great Laborer" not only for his belief in social justice but the work done on an average day. In San Antonio, Archbishop Lucey was able to implement many programs and initiatives again with the goal of better informing the community that the Catholic Church had a place for the betterment of society.[3]

As he relocated the archdiocesan headquarters on 230 Dwyer Avenue, he organized the Catholic Welfare Bureau, the Catholic Action Office, and Council of Catholic Men. That same year he supported the sponsorship of a summer school of social justice for the clergy. The next year he created another Catholic newspaper called the Alamo Register (which still exists today under the name Today's Catholic). Finally, Lucey, who was very much concerned with parochial schools, appointed Father John L. Morkovsky as archdiocesan superintendent which was one factor that led to the increase of enrollment of children in Catholic schools. Archbishop Lucey's involvement however, did not only extend to communications but programs aimed at the needy, sick, and destitute.[4]

As mentioned earlier social action was an important piece of Lucey's agenda for San Antonio. This may be seen in the numerous hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics that were designed to specifically assist the needy such as Yorktown Memorial Hospital, the Czech Catholic Home for the Aged, and the Huth Memorial Hospital which included the latest technological equipment at the time. Lucey also created 29 clinics throughout Southwest Texas which served 39,000 patients at one time. Finally, he cooperated in the establishment of the founding of the Patrician Movement which helped rehabilitating drug using juvenile youths and created Project Equality in 1965, whose aim was to provide equal pay and wages to blue collar workers.[5]

Fair Wage Projects in San Antonio: Gymnasium at St. Cecilia's Catholic ChurchEdit

San Antonio would be the test to implement fair wages to any construction project in the archdiocese. Archbishop Lucey corresponded with Father Balthasar Janáček at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church over the construction of a new gymnasium throughout 1962-65. The gymnasium would not only benefit the parish but the growing community on the south side of San Antonio. Working with a local construction company, J.J. Falbo Construction Co., the archdiocese was able to pay a "proper decent wage" to any individual who worked under the archdiocese. [6]

Several correspondences between Fr. Janáček and Lucey reveal the contents of any negotiations between a company and the archdiocese. For example, Lucey insisted that Falbo provide evidence of workmen's compensation, employer's liability, bodily injury, and automobile bodily injury before they proceed with the building project. Furthermore, a letter between Janáček and Lucey during the last phase of the project shows us the extent which Lucey was involved in the project. The correspondence reveals that Falbo had not hired a steel company under the supervision of the trades council in San Antonio. In the end the company did show evidence of paying an even higher wage than the union pay rate. Lucey was thus fully aware of what occurred with any project done in the diocese of San Antonio.[7]

Last Years in San AntonioEdit

On the July 4, 1969, Archbishop Lucey retired as Archbishop of San Antonio at the age of seventy-eight. His retirement stemmed with disagreements between himself and local priests within the Archdiocese over how priests should become involved in politics. As a result, the Vatican instructed Lucey to retire. He served as bishop for twenty-eight years. On August 1, 1977 the former archbishop died of age. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery a place that he himself had acquired in northeast Bexar County to build the cemetery.[8]


  1. ^ Williams, Frankin C., Lone Star Bishops: The Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Texas (Texian Press: 1997), p. 361.
  2. ^ Williams, p. 361.
  3. ^ a b Williams, p. 362.
  4. ^ Williams, p. 363.
  5. ^ Williams, p. 363-64.
  6. ^ Correspondence from Rev. Balthasar Janacek to Rev. Charles Grahmann, January 24, 1968, ST. Cecilia files, AASA.
  7. ^ Rev. Balthasar Janacek to Rev. Charles Grahmann, AASA.
  8. ^ Williams, p. 365.

External linksEdit

  • "Archbishop Robert Emmet Lucey †". Catholic-Hierarchy. [self-published]
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Rudolph Gerken
Bishop of Amarillo
16 May 1934–23 January 1941
Succeeded by
Laurence Julius FitzSimon
Preceded by
Arthur Jerome Drossaerts
Archbishop of San Antonio
23 January 1941–23 May 1969
Succeeded by
Francis James Furey
Preceded by
Jean Guénolé Louis Marie Daniélou, S.J
Titular bishop of Tauromenium
23 May 1969–31 Dec 1970
Succeeded by
Edoardo Rovida