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St. Ann's to install new pastor

The Rev. Marty Nocchi hopes to help move the parish toward a community-minded approach

December 10, 2010|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • The Rev. Marty Nocchi is the new pastor of St. Ann's Catholic Church in Hagerstown. His formal installation will take place at Saturday's 5:15 p.m. Mass.
Ric Dugan | Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The Rev. Marty Nocchi came to the priesthood and Hagerstown in a roundabout way, a process that took time and reflection.

He was one of six children and grew up in a small town south of Scranton, Pa., active in his home parish as a youth.

Nocchi, 38, earned an undergraduate degree in education from Bloomsburg University and taught third- and fourth-grade in a Catholic school near his hometown.

But In 1997, Nocchi said he was “looking for something more out of life” and decided to give seminary a try. After two years at the University of Scranton, Nocchi headed to St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.

“They sent me here to study, and I never went back,” Nocchi said.

Following ordination, Nocchi served as associate pastor for a Baltimore County parish. After that, he ran a retreat house for high school youth in northern Baltimore County for four years.

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While in that position, he also taught a weekly program for high school juniors at St. Mary’s Seminary, which he still does. He said the program is open to students interested in theology, and they earn three college credits upon completion of the course.

“I enjoyed my time working with high school kids. I was ready for something different, a new challenge,” Nocchi said.

“Father Marty” has been serving as pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Hagerstown since August, and his formal installation will take place at today’s 5:15 p.m. Mass. He is being installed by Bishop Rozanski of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

“I think it will be a good celebration. Some of my family will be here,” Nocchi said.

Nocchi admits he wasn’t familiar with St. Ann’s or Hagerstown when he was asked to consider the move here. He said he came to check it out on July Fourth, before anybody knew he was, and decided to accept the call.

Now Nocchi said he runs into people he knows wherever he goes, whether at the movies or out in the community. Although it takes time to get to know his parishioners and the area, Nocchi said it’s an advantage that the parish, founded in the late 1960s, isn’t that old, and that some of the original members are still active in the church.

“They have been good with giving me some of the history and what has gone on,” Nocchi said.

He said that he no longer needs his GPS to get to major locations in town.

Nocchi said the parish has been without a permanent priest for about a year. He is the ninth pastor in the church’s history and the fourth one in the past decade.

That has made parishioners realize that with the dwindling number of priests, not all parishes have one, Nocchi said.

He said that he tries to connect with a different parish family once a week, usually for a Friday dinner in their home. It was this connection to a regular community that he missed when he worked at the retreat house.

“So far it’s been good,” Nocchi said.

In his spare time, Nocchi likes to bike and hike and is enjoying the C&O Canal for both. He also enjoys going to the movies and reading.

For now, Nocchi is focusing on getting to know church members, working with the strategic planning committee to determine the parish’s priorities and seeking feedback from members through a “Coming Home at Christmas” survey.

He hopes to help move the parish toward a community-minded approach.

“The parish cannot stand on its own and be something that only happens on Sunday. It plays an integral part within the life of the community and needs to take an active role in promoting justice for all . . .,” Nocchi wrote in a recent weekly “Pastor’s Corner” reflection to the congregation.

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