By Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 20, 2016
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Growing up across the street from a Catholic church, Deacon Craig Fucci, 460th Space Wing Chapel Catholic religious education coordinator, has always had a close relationship with his faith.
As a boy, Fucci would accompany his grandmother to church each week as well as attend religious education every Wednesday afternoon after school. His exposure and experiences with the church from a young age shaped his desire to serve God.
"We had four priests in our parish that I became very close with," Fucci said. "Growing up, I admired them a lot and would mimic them. That is what started to make me think 'well maybe I want to be a priest.'"
Fucci thought he wanted to enter the seminary after middle school in order to be ordained. However, after consulting with priests in his church and beginning high school, he reconsidered.
"I found out my vocation was really married life and not the priesthood," Fucci explained.
After high school, Fucci enlisted in the U.S. Navy and began military service. Beginning in 1964, Fucci served four years as a communications technician. During his enlistment, he was stationed in Japan for two years and found an enthusiasm for their culture. While there, Fucci tried to learn as much as he could about the culture and language of the Japanese people and even ended up meeting his wife there.
After the military, Fucci and his wife, Masae Fucci, settled down and he began a career as a banker. His calling to serve people through God would resurface years later.
Fucci, being a married man, was unable to be ordained as a priest in the Catholic Church. However, in the mid 1960's, the Catholic Church brought back the diaconate program, a program that ordains ministers in the Catholic Church. Through completing the diaconate program, a man can become a deacon. One of the differences between a deacon and a priest in the Catholic Church is that a deacon can be a married man.
With the re-establishment of deacons in the Catholic Church, Fucci's calling to serve could be fulfilled through that position.
In 1990, after discussing it with Masae, Fucci realized being ordained was the right choice and became a deacon.
However, he soon realized that his career and his position in the church did not align.
"Being a deacon on the weekends and talking about scripture, my faith and God, and then working at a bank Monday through Friday just didn't work," Fucci said. "The objectives were totally different."
Fucci retired from banking at the age of 62 with hopes of fulfilling plans he and Masae had outlined. Unfortunately, four years after retiring, Masae fell ill and passed away.
Frustrated and angered, his faith was challenged by his loss. However, through the most challenging times of his faith, his relationship with God flourished.
"It made my faith even stronger," Fucci said. "Even though I was angry with God, I realize now that anger was attributed to a personal relationship with Him. If I didn't have that personal relationship, I wouldn't have gotten angry with Him."
After mourning for months, Fucci realized he had to stop feeling sorry for himself. He began working part time at the bank but began feeling unfulfilled by the work he was doing.
"It didn't help support my faith because the environment was totally different," Fucci said.
One day, he received a call from his diaconate office that told him Father Edward Buvens, 460th Buckley Chapel Catholic priest, was overwhelmed and needed help.
"They asked me if I would go and talk to him to see if there was anything I could do," Fucci said.
After speaking with Father Buvens, Fucci realized it was a great opportunity and he would volunteer to help.
"I really liked what I was doing because I was helping out the Service men and women at Buckley AFB but it was also adding to my faith which is what I wanted," Fucci said. "It not only helps me to accomplish things in my life that are worthwhile but it also helps me in my faith."
Since beginning to volunteer at the Buckley Chapel in 2014, Fucci has taken a job there and now conducts religious services, education and counseling.
"When people see me when they have a problem they'll ask 'can we sit down and talk?'" Fucci said. "That to me is worth its weight in gold. Being able to sit down with people and give them guidance. I can help them obtain what they're looking for."
Fucci's arrival at Buckley AFB hasn't just been appreciated by the people he serves but also the people he works next to.
"Deacon Fucci has created a robust religious education program for all age groups in the Catholic community," said Chaplain (Maj.) David Del Prado, 460th Buckley Chapel. "His efforts contributed exponentially toward the spiritual development of Catholic parishioners, increased attendance at Mass, and the rise in volunteer support to the Catholic community. As the right hand to Father Edward Buvens, he has been a great advisor and partner helping to underwrite the unity that their community has formed."
Fucci has enjoyed his experiences at Buckley and continues to serve the community in any way he can.
"This is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Fucci said. "It not only adds to my faith, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment."