Raymond Alphonse Lucker
|The Most Reverend
Raymond Alphonse Lucker
|Bishop of New Ulm|
|Installed||February 19, 1976|
|Term ended||November 17, 2000|
|Predecessor||Alphonse James Schladweiler|
|Successor||John Clayton Nienstedt|
|Other posts||Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis (1971-76)|
|Ordination||June 7, 1952|
|Consecration||September 8, 1971|
February 24, 1927|
St. Paul, Minnesota
|Died||September 19, 2001
St. Paul, Minnesota
Early life and education
Raymond Lucker was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the third of six children of Alphonse J. and Josephine Theresa (née Schiltgen) Lucker. His father, a railroad worker, died in 1940 at age 42, the day before Raymond began the eighth grade. His mother (1899-1999), who was the daughter of a farmer, later married Joseph Stephen Mayer in 1948. He spent many of his childhood summers working on his grandparents' farm east of the Twin Cities.
He received his early education at the parochial school of Sacred Heart Church, and entered Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary in 1941. He then studied at St. Paul Seminary, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy (1948) and a Master of Arts degree in Church history (1952). He earned his Master's degree with a thesis entitled: "Some Aspects of the Life of Thomas Langdon Grace, Second Bishop of St. Paul".
On June 7, 1952, Lucker was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop James J. Byrne at the Cathedral of St. Paul. His first assignment was as assistant director of the Archdiocese's Office of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. He served as assistant director until 1958, when he was named director of the office and professor of catechetics at St. Paul Seminary, serving in both positions until 1969.
In 1964, Lucker was sent to further his studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, where he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1966 with a thesis titled "The Aims of Religious Education in the Early Church and in the American Catechetical Movement". During his studies in Rome, he participated in the Second Vatican Council. Following his return to Minnesota, he served as superintendent of education for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 1966 to 1969. He received a Ph.D. in Education ("Some Presuppositions of Released Time") from the University of Minnesota in 1969. From 1969 to 1971, he worked in Washington, D.C. as the director of the Department of Education for the newly created United States Catholic Conference. During his tenure as director, he was named an honorary prelate by Pope Paul VI.
Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis
On July 12, 1971, Lucker was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Titular Bishop of Meta by Pope Paul VI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 8 from Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, with Archbishops Leo Binz and Leo Byrne serving as co-consecrators. In addition to his episcopal duties, he served as pastor of St. Austin's Church in Minneapolis (1971–74) and of the Church of the Assumption in St. Paul (1974–76). While at the Church of the Assumption, he also served as director of the Archdiocese's Liturgy Office.
Bishop of New Ulm
During his 25-year tenure, Lucker earned a reputation as one of the most progressive Catholic bishops in the country. He was a pioneer in the national movement to reform Catholic education, helping the nationwide development of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the National Conference of Diocesan Directors. In 1989, he engaged in a public disagreement with Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and John J. O'Connor over the state of catechesis in the United States. During a meeting in Rome, Ratzinger allegedly said, "The developments in catechesis in the post-conciliar period, to a large extent, [have] been turned over to the so-called professional. This, in turn, has led to an excess of experimentation...making it all the more difficult to recognize that of the Gospel." O'Connor was reported to have said, "Basically confusion and diversity in catechetical materials have left an entire generation in a state of ambiguity. Some bishops are bludgeoned into compliance...and some bishops are browbeaten by directors of religious education so that bishops' feelings of inadequacy are heightened." In response, Lucker declared, "If what the two cardinals say is true, then there is no catechetical renewal and we have to go back to the '50s. Or, if it is not true, then we have an enormous communications problem with our own bishops and with many other people." The following year, he again criticized Cardinal Ratzinger after the Vatican announced it would give the world's bishops five months to express concerns about its draft of a universal catechism for adults; Lucker said, "A textbook is not the center and the focus of catechesis."
Lucker expressed his support of birth control and the ordination of women. On the particular issue of women's ordination, he once remarked, "Basically, the Church's argument against the ordination of women—which has been taught for at least 800 years—is that women are inferior. But we don't believe that women are inferior anymore. There is a lack of argumentation for the teaching. And the argumentation is weak." He also opposed clerical celibacy, supporting the ordination of married men to help alleviate the worldwide shortage of priests.
Lucker was also a harsh critic of the Vatican's bureaucracies, once saying, "I'm convinced that the biggest obstacle to the renewal of the Church is the Roman Curia." He once placed one of his parishes under interdict until every member received psychological counseling after the parishioners objected to a nun, who was trained in New Age spirituality, decided to replace a crucifix in the church's sanctuary with a "cosmic pillow."
Lucker also served as episcopal moderator of Pax Christi; a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America; and a member of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee and the committees on Latin America, Evangelization, Diaconate, Laity, Catechetical Directory, and Charismatic Renewal.
On November 17, 2000, Lucker retired as Bishop of New Ulm after he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. He later died at Our Lady of Good Counsel Home in St. Paul, at age 74. He is buried at New Ulm Catholic Cemetery.
- "Bishop Raymond Alphonse Lucker". Herald Journal. 2001.
- McDonough, William. "Ray Lucker". Talbot School of Theology.
- "Josephine Theresa Schiltgen Mayer". Find A Grave Memorial.
- "Most Reverend Raymond A. Lucker, S.T.D.". Roman Catholic Diocese of New Ulm.
- "Bishop Raymond Alphonse Lucker". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
- "NEW ULM'S BISHOP LUCKER IS RETIRING TODAY". St. Paul Pioneer Press. 2000-11-17.
- McClory, Robert J (2004-05-07). "Bishop takes issue with late predecessor". National Catholic Reporter.
- Likoudis, Paul. "Bishop Raymond Lucker: A Tragic Figure of the 'New Catechetics'". CatholicCulture.org.
- "Bishop exhorts Catholics on reform". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2000-11-04.