Norwich Catholics saddened by priest’s illness; departure fuels old fears

NORWICH – The future looks uncertain for the Church of the Holy Apostles - St. Bart’s and St. Paul’s Catholic churches in Norwich as parishioners began to absorb the news this week that their priest was ill and would resign.

Father Douglas Cunningham, who has been the Norwich Catholic community’s spiritual leader for more than 14 years, announced in both parishes on Sunday that he would step away at the end of June due to what several close to him have confirmed are “serious health reasons.”

The Norwich priest, who is 52, was unavailable for comment. The Church of the Holy Apostles also declined to issue a statement.

Church of the Holy Apostles Finance Committee member Paul Del Fuoco of Sherburne said Cunningham’s illness required “something less stressful than what he’s doing now.”

“I’ll miss him because I enjoy my association with him. I’m sorry that he feels that he needs to move on,” he said.

Monsignor Richard Copp, vicar for priests of the Diocese of Syracuse, confirmed that applications for the opening in Norwich were being solicited from prospective candidates. He said it would be a decision of the soon to be ordained Bishop Robert J. Cunningham (no relation) as to when a new priest would be in place and whether the person would lead both parishes.

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