Que descanse en paz, Padre Tracy - Rest in Peace, Fr. Tracy
Padre Tracy falleció hoy por la mañana después de una larga lucha con ALS (esclerosis lateral amiotrófica, también conocida como la enfermedad de Lou Gehrig).
Father Lawrence Tracy died early this morning after his long and painful struggle with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease).
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Padre Tracy (Father Laurence Tracy) 's story is in many ways the story of Hispanics in the Diocese of Rochester, New York. Here, in words, pictures, and videos, that community joins with Padre Tracy in narrating the struggles and triumphs, sadness and joy, failures and blessings, as both look toward the future.
While to many it seems as if Padre Tracy has always been a part of the community, the first group of Hispanics arrived in Rochester in 1946, part of the huge immigration from Puerto Rico to the US mainland.
In 1946, Padre Tracy was, by the way, well, rather young! Born on March 14, 1940, his parents lived at 127 Clifford Avenue, two blocks from St. Michael's. He was the oldest of six children (3 boys and 3 girls) of Norman Patrick Tracy and Marguerite Fuehrer Tracy. His father was from Irish descent and his mother’s grandfather came from Germany. His father was a factory worker, while his mother stayed at home to take care of her six children.
Legend has it that his Irish father had to endure frequent ethnic slurs from his German mother-in-law. According to Fr. Tracy's sister, “as a result, it was always very clear to all of us kids that deciding to hate or despise someone because of their ethnicity was pretty darn stupid.”
The Tracy family had a son with Down syndrome, and cared for him for many years at the Monroe Developmental Center, where he died several years ago.
Padre Tracy went to grammar school at St. Michael's, and then entered the Seminary, first 6 years at St. Andrew's Minor Seminary, followed by 6 years at St. Bernard's, after which he was ordained a priest on June 4, 1966. While at St. Bernard's, two seminary professors were major influences: Fr. Charles Curran and Fr. Joseph Brennan. As he noted later "I had decided by my third year in Seminary that I wanted to work with poor people."
Over the years, Fr. Tracy has served the Hispanic Community from a variety of venues:
Back Story: Puerto Rican Immigration to Rochester
From 1945 to 1960 about one fifth of the population of Puerto Rico at the time, or about 500,000 people, left the island and came north to the United States. With all due apologies to West Side Story, not all of these immigrants came to New York City. The second largest group came to Rochester, beginning as migrant workers, recruited and sought out by groups like the Wayne County Grower's Association. During World War II, the Association used German POWs at a camp in Marion, NY. After the War, these workers were replaced by Puerto Ricans, who began to stay in Rochester at the end of the harvest season. In 1952 there were roughly 200 Puerto Ricans living permanently in Rochester, but by 1955 that number exploded to 7,000, the largest immigration into Rochester at that time. From working in Marion, the next step to Rochester was an all year job at the BirdsEye's plant. And many of these new immigrants settled close to (Brown's Square) or into Padre Tracy's home parish, St. Michael's, in and around "La Avenida Clinton."