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Archives Remembering Msgr. Lawrence M. Deno

April 19, 2023

By Darcy Fargo

“He was a very gracious individual. He carried himself with a lot of dignity, and he imparted that in the people with whom he had relationships. He was very respectful of people’s dignity. He really tried to honor people.”

Father Thomas E. Kornmeyer described his friend, Msgr. Lawrence M. Deno, with those words.

Msgr. Deno died April 9 in Plattsburgh at the age of 90, after nearly 64 years of service as a priest.

Father Kornmeyer said he became friends with Msgr. Deno when the former was a student at Wadhams Hall Seminary College and the latter was an instructor at the seminary.

“I never had a class with him, but over time, we developed a friendship,” Father Kornmeyer said. “He was always available when I was a student there. He did a lot of spiritual direction.”

Both Father Kornmeyer and Father Bill Muench, a seminary classmate of Msgr. Deno, remember their friend as being quiet and humble.

“He had quite the academic pedigree,” said Father Kornmeyer, noting Father Deno had, in addition to his seminary studies, a masters in mathematics from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and doctorate in educational administration from Notre Dame University. “He never wore that on his sleeve. He wasn’t that kind of person.”

“He was a very quiet person,” Father Muench added. “Our first years at Wadhams Hall, we were young – very young. It was an interesting adventure getting to know each other. We grew up in different parts of the world. Obviously, he was a good student. We got to know each other through academics and discussions. He wasn’t really into sports or anything like that.”

Father Muench said he and Msgr. Deno “saw a lot of each other” in their early studies.

“We had classes together, but we also spent a lot of time sharing with each other about exactly what we were getting into,” he said. “Later, when we were all finishing major seminary and getting ready for ordination, (Father) Joe Sestito and I were in Baltimore. We picked up (Msgr.) Larry Deno and (another classmate) at Mount St. Mary’s and drove to Ogdensburg for the ordination. I guess you could say we journeyed to ordination together in a couple ways.”

Father Muench said he and Father Deno later worked together a bit when Father Muench was a teacher and when he served in parishes with schools. At that time, Msgr. Deno was superintendent of schools in the diocese.

“He was certainly good for the (diocesan school) system,” Father Muench said. “He did a good job watching over the schools, and we had a lot of them in those days.”

Father Kornmeyer said his friend was also a good priest.

“(Msgr. Deno) was close to Christ and always demonstrated that in his ministry and in his work,” he said. “Whether he was counseling somebody or celebrating Mass or helping someone, he was always in persona Christi to people. He presented Christ. He really helped people grow spiritually. That’s what I saw in him; that’s what I observed. He had tremendous respect for everyone. I never heard him judge anyone. He took people where they were and made them better.”

“He was a great guy, a good priest and a hard worker for Catholic schools,” Father Muench said. “He was good with people, but he was a quiet man.”

A complete obituary can be found below.


Mass of Christian Burial celebrated April 14
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated for Msgr. Lawrence M. Deno at 11 a.m. on April 14, 2023, at St. Joseph’s Church in West Chazy. Bishop Terry R. LaValley celebrated the Mass, and Rev. Thomas E. Kornmeyer served as homilist. Burial was in Saint Joseph’s Cemetery in West Chazy.

Msgr. Deno died April 9, 2023, in Plattsburgh, at the age of 90.

Born in Plattsburgh on Sept. 21, 1932, he was the son of Maxime and Mary Elise (Martin) Deno.

He grew up in a French-speaking family on a farm in West Chazy. He graduated from Mount Assumption Institute in Plattsburgh and began studies for the priesthood at Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburg, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. After receiving a master’s degree in theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., he was ordained a priest in St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 16, 1959, by Bishop James J. Navagh.

He later received a master’s degree in mathematics from St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vt., and a doctorate in educational administration at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. He was state certified to serve as both a math teacher and a school administrator.

In his early years as a priest, Msgr. Deno served as parochial vicar in Clayton, Massena, Morrisonville, Tupper Lake and at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg. He later served as pastor in Hammond and Cadyville, retiring in 2017. In his retirement, Msgr. Deno lived in Sacred Heart rectory in Chazy, where he continued to minister and serve.

He was named a Prelate of Honor with the title monsignor in 1989.

In addition to serving as a parochial vicar and pastor, Msgr. Deno taught mathematics at Holy Ghost Academy in Tupper Lake from 1961 to 1966. In 1966, he was named diocesan Assistant Superintendent of Schools, a role he held until 1971, when he was named diocesan superintendent of schools. He served in that capacity until 1996.

In 1971, he began teaching at Wadhams Hall Seminary College. He remained in that role until 1996. He served as chair of the Social Science Teaching department at the seminary college for nearly two decades. He also served as a professor at Mater Dei College in Ogdensburg from 1975 to 1981.

In addition to his parents, Msgr. Deno is predeceased by his brother, George. Survivors include a sister-in-law, Carolyn Deno; nephews, Jerry Deno (Lisa) and Jeffery Deno (Tammy); along with eight great-nieces and nephews and twelve great-great-nieces and nephews.

The family extends a special gratitude to those who helped Msgr. The parishioners of St. James Church in Cadyville, who welcomed him and made his last assignment as pastor a special time. Sacred Heart Church in Chazy gave him welcome in his retirement home. Cherish, Jenn, Brenda and Kathy from The Orchards at Meadowbrook for treating him like family. Finally gratitude to the amazing staff on R7 of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital who cared for him in his last days.

A priest to the core, Msgr. Deno was also truly a family man. Even early in his priesthood, it was a family highlight when he returned home to West Chazy. The family always loved the slide shows from previous visits or places he had been. He was proud of his heritage and upbringing. He looked forward to spending time with the younger generations. A favorite outing included visiting someone’s home for a meal. He loved to learn and teach. Msgr. Deno was blessed to have a full life doing the things he cherished most.

Arrangements are through Brown Funeral Home.

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