Hundreds of mourners were on hand Wednesday morning as an influential religious leader was laid to rest in Rochester.
Father Laurence Tracy passed away last week after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
At St. Michael’s Church, the place where Father Tracy was baptized decades ago, the beloved priest was memorialized by speakers.
Father Tracy was best known as a fierce advocate and friend of Rochester’s Latino community.
Jesenia Curley has known Father Tracy her whole life. Her grandma, Belen Colon, was one of his greatest friends and spoke at his funeral.
“I just remember how kind he was and I was young when I was with him and I would be in his personal space or mess up magazines or try to drink his seltzer water,” she recalls. “I don’t have any memory of him having attitude or angry or anything — every memory I have of him is positive.”
Alsah Rodrigues met Father Tracy nine years ago in the emergency department at Rochester General where she worked.
“He has a part of my heart,” says Rodrigues. “He was one of my first person that I met and I had seen this man coming to the hospital every single day, visiting patients.”
When Rodriguez asked him who he was, he said, “I’m Puerto Rican like you.”
It wasn’t until she went to mass and had seen him leading the service that she figured out who he was: Father Tracy, an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.
Father Tracy was born and raised in this neighborhood. Many people living here that we spoke to say they wouldn’t be who they are without Father Tracy. Not only was he a great leader and role model but a true friend to the entire community.