ROXBURY, NJ – Parishioners of St. Therese Roman Catholic Church in Succasunna are upset about the Diocese of Paterson’s decision to transfer the church’s popular pastor and some are talking about fighting the decision.

The plan to transfer the Rev. Marc Mancini was announced at last weekend’s masses, according to some St. Therese parishioners. They said Mancini had tears in his eyes as he told the congregation he’ll be leaving.

He wasn’t alone, said Anne Colucci, an active St. Therese parishioner and member of the Roxbury Board of Education. “People were crying,” she said. “People were so upset.”

Sign Up for E-News

Among the unhappy is Suzanne Vogler. “He said he didn’t want to leave the parish,” she said. “He said he wanted to stay and that he had unfinished business here; building a new rectory and some school projects.”

Mancini did not return a message left at the St. Therese office. The Diocese also did not return a message seeking comment.

Vogler’s sister, Carol Scheneck – also a member of the school board and a former township council member – said she is likely to push back against the plan to remove Mancini from St. Therese. She's considering a petition or letter campaign.

“I’m just hoping the bishop reconsiders and does not transfer him,” said Scheneck, noting she’s been a St. Therese parishioner since she was five years old.

“People are very upset,” she said. “He’s been the most wonderful, compassionate, empathetic pastor we’ve ever had.”

A Unifier of St. Therese

She, and others, credited Mancini for bringing the church together following a controversy involving a former pastor’s financial affairs. “Basically, Father Marc healed this church,” Scheneck said. “We were going through a crisis. There was a schism in the church. He came in and really healed this church and he’s very beloved in the community.”

Both Colucci and Scheneck talked about how the priest went above and beyond in attempting to comfort them during times of hardship and grief.  

“I met Father Marc eight years ago when my husband was told he had cancer,” Colucci recalled. “Father Marc was with me for six months. He even stayed with me the night my father died.”

Scheneck said Mancini did the same her. “He was there the night my mother died,” she said. "He was there to meet me at my house - before I even got home - to help me through the night on the night they found my mother in 2016. He is truly a wonderful priest.”

Back Where He Started

The “New Assignments” statement on the Diocese website says Mancini will become administrator of St. James of the Marches in Totowa effective June 13. That will put him close to Paterson, where he was born and raised.

In his biography, Mancini said he became an industrial electrician after graduating high school. “Following approximately five years of working full time, I decided to discern the call to be a priest, and further my formal education,” he wrote.

He said he became a priest in November 1992, spent about five years as a priest, between 1992 and 1997, at St. Therese before moving elsewhere.

Mancini returned to the Succasunna church in 2010. The church currently has almost 3,000 families in its parishioner ranks, according to its website.

But Vogler said Mancini’s return came at a time when masses at St. Therese were sparsely attended.

“I went to church then and just about every mass was empty,” she said. “When Father Marc came back, all of a sudden the masses were full again. That’s why I don’t want him to go ... People like it’s a family with Father Marc here. You want to go to church. He makes you want to be there. I think he made a difference in this parish.”