First Posted: 1/6/2013
Reverend Harry Joseph Lewis, pastor emeritus of St. Therese’s Church, Wilkes-Barre, and a resident at Little Flower Manor, Wilkes-Barre, died on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, at 101 years of age.
Father Lewis, son of the late Daniel W. and Bridget Ann Callahan Lewis, was born in Miners Mills on Sept. 19, 1911. He was a graduate of Sacred Heart High School, Plains Township, and completed his undergraduate studies in education at St. Thomas College, now the University of Scranton, receiving his B.A. in June 1936.
He entered the military service in April 1942, serving with the Sixth Armored Division, Third Army, in Europe from Feb. 1944 until Oct. 1945. In 1944 the division landed in England and later in France. At this time, the future priest was assigned to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, with the division eventually meriting five Battle Stars while in Europe. He was in combat at the Battle of the Bulge, the last major Nazi offensive in World War II. After his honorable discharge from the service with the rank of corporal technical, he entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., where he completed his studies for the priesthood. Father Lewis was ordained on June 3, 1950, in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, by the Most Rev. William J. Hafey, D.D., late Bishop of Scranton.
Father Lewis served as an assistant pastor at St. Therese’s, Shavertown; St. Andrew’s, Blossburg; St. Francis of Assisi, West Hazleton; St. Patrick’s, Scranton, and as administrator of St. Charles, Sugar Notch. He was named founding pastor of St. Maria Goretti parish in Laflin on Sept. 14, 1967. He then served as pastor of St. Therese’s Church in Wilkes-Barre, where he is credited with restoring the church after the devastating flood caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Father remained at St. Therese, serving for 17 years until his retirement and appointment as pastor emeritus on Sept. 9, 1987.
Father Lewis celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011 with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L. He was described by his parishioners as exhibiting a joyful presence, kind demeanor and humble, faithful ways. Bishop Bambera told Father Lewis his greatest blessings over the years were all the blessing that you have given away. The parishioners told Bishop Bambera how Father Lewis was there for them, not only to rebuild the church after Agnes but to help them rebuild their lives.
After his retirement, Father Lewis remained in active ministry helping at various parishes in the diocese. He was a charter member and the spiritual advisor for the Wyoming Valley Chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life. Before they were able to open the Pro-Life Center, Father Lewis invited them to use St. Therese’s Church Hall for their meetings and attended the bus trip to the March for Life each year.
He was preceded in death by a sister, Sister Irma Lewis, R.S.M., and three brothers, Rev. Raymond P. Lewis, C.M., Francis Lewis and John L. Lewis
Father Lewis was one of eight children, three of whom entered religious life. He is survived by one brother, Daniel Lewis, Ph.D., Pittsburgh, and two sisters, Kathleen Kutish, Forty Fort, and Jane Lloyd, Harrisburg, and several nieces and nephews.
Vigil Mass was celebrated at Villa Saint Joseph on Friday, Jan. 4, with the Most Rev. James C. Timlin, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of Scranton, presiding.
A Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton. Interment was in St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Moscow.
Funeral arrangements provided by the Frank M. Regan Funeral Home, Scranton.