OSWEGO — Rev. John Canorro is no stranger to major shifts among Oswego County Catholic parishes.
Recently appointed as pastor for the newly christened Christ the Good Shepherd — a consolidated form of Oswego’s four Catholic parishes — Rev. Canorro brings with him hometown roots in East Syracuse and 15 years of spiritual leadership in the central New York area, with more than a dozen of those in Oswego County.
He’s also had experience guiding parish communities through the process of consolidating, a process he said is similar to “grieving.” The city’s 1,200 Catholics will look to Canorro for guidance as they transition from four separate congregations to one in Christ the Good Shepherd.
“Everyone’s role as a pastor is to bring the community together,” said Canorro, a bright-eyed and energetic but humble man, in an interview Monday at the offices of The Palladium-Times. “There are specifics of Oswego that are different, but that’s the case with any church.”
Canorro previously served as the priest for St. Mary Star of the Sea in Mexico and St. Anne’s in Parish for 12 years. During that time, he said he helped the parish communities work through a challenging time of consolidation to become St. Anne Mother of Mary in Mexico.
Over the course of those 12 years, he also took over Pulaski’s Christ our Light, which had formed out of the union between St. Francis Xavier Cabrini in Lacona and St. John’s in Pulaski.
“I was the pastor of Fulton, Mexico and Pulaski — I was doing all three of them,” Canorro said.
The workload of managing three parishes in three different municipalities became “too much to cover for one person,” Canorro said, and in 2017 he transitioned to his current post at St. Rose of Lima in Syracuse.
“That took me out of the residence of Oswego County, but I still have many friendships and many connections,” Canorro said.
A certified Emergency Medical Technician, Canorro said he’s forged strong local connections through his work as a volunteer firefighter in Volney and in Mexico. He was recently appointed department chaplain for the Oswego Fire Department.
“Firefighting is something that I’ve just grown to love,” he said, adding that he will find it difficult to continue working as a firefighter while acting as priest for Christ the Good Shepherd. “The fact that I actually have the experience of being a firefighter — when the men and women that are in our fire service need someone to talk to if they had a bad day or a bad call, it gives them a kind of comfort level with me to talk about whatever they might be going through.”
Oswego Fire Department Chief Randy Griffin said Canorro has stepped in over the years to offer his chaplain services for September 11 commemorations, benediction ceremonies and memorials for fallen firefighters.
“I’ve known Father John for some time,” said Griffin, reached by phone Monday. “He’s chaplain for a number of fire departments in Oswego County so it’s great that we can have him in the city.”
In a Monday email to The Palladium-Times, the outgoing Bishop Robert Cunningham of the Diocese of Syracuse said Canorro is a “gifted priest who listens well” and is “both compassionate and understanding.”
“Through his past assignments, he has experienced parish mergers and always leads with his eye towards unification,” Cunningham said. “I am confident that the good people of Oswego will welcome him with open arms.”
Through his experience with past church mergers, Canorro said he is used to entering the role with a prepared schedule for masses, although he said he does not yet have specifics for what mass schedule for Christ the Good Shepherd will look like beyond his first mass July 1.
He said the most important thing he has learned, however, is patience and helping worshipers see the “good” in forming a new parish community.
“I’m going to do everything I can for you,” Canorro said, addressing the Oswego Catholic community directly. “My parish becomes my family and I will always will take care of my family.”