John B. Luce


The Reverend Canon John Burroughs Luce, retired Canon Residentiary of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, died on 17 September 2012 after a long illness at Amsterdam House in New York City where he had been in residence for the past year. He was 82.

Father Luce was born in Boston on October 25, 1930, the son of William Burroughs Luce and Catherine Shattuck Luce. As a child, he spent summers at his grandmother Elizabeth Hillman Luce’s home on Pine Street in Vineyard Haven.

He was a graduate of Harvard, Class of 1952, and received a Masters of Divinity from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin in 1955. After being ordained Deacon in 1954, Canon Luce served in the Diocese of Milwaukee as an Assistant at Saint James Parish.

Moving to New York, he served as an Associate Priest at the Church of Saint Edward the Martyr from 1955 to 1961, and later as Curate at the Church of the Intercession. He was then Priest-in-Charge of Grace Church, Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was an activist in the street ministry started by Bishop Paul Moore and Dean James Parks Morton.

John continued his ministry to the poor and underserved as he moved from this parish to the post of missioner in the Diocese of Los Angeles at La Iglesia Episcopal de la Epifania in the Lincoln Heights area. He served as Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in East Los Angeles from 1965 to 1973. He was a close friend of Cesar Chavez and helped him in his effort to organize a union for farmworkers. The Church of the Epiphany became the hot bed of much of the activity among Chicanos (Mexican Americans) for their rights. He was the unsung hero in the Chicano Movement, an effort by the Mexican-American community to fight for their civil rights.

He returned to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in the South Bronx from 1976 to 1982 while at the same time serving as the Diocesan Urban Officer at the Department of Missions for the Diocesan Missionary & Church Extension Society. In 1983, he held a Proctor Fellowship at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. From 1986 and into his retirement, he was a member of the Cathedral Chapter.

A Memorial Service will he held at 10 am on Friday, October 5, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York.

On November 2 at the Church of the Epiphany in Los Angeles, the Dia De Los Muertos altar will honor Canon John Luce with music, pictures, flowers and stories. There will also be a Memorial Service celebrating his life and leadership at the Church of the Epiphany on November 3 at 11 am, with The Reverend Chloe Breyer preaching.

Interment will be in Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven at a time to be determined.