After the Diocese of Buffalo was established in 1847, the spiritual needs of Catholics from 1850 to 1870, in what is now Angola, was attended to by the Passionist Fathers of Dunkirk. At the request of residents, priests traveled to the area to say Mass in the larger homes. This continued until 1871 when Most Precious Blood Parish was established. The Rev. Thomas Ledwith was its first pastor.
In 1874 the Rev. Thomas Caraher came to Angola (incorporated in 1873) as MPB’s pastor. He purchased land on the Transit and Brant-Angola Roads for a parish cemetery. Prior to that time, all Catholic burials from the area took place in Dunkirk. The first burial in Holy Cross Cemetery was March 7 1879 for Dennis Graeney. During the next few years, the Pastorate at Angola had many changes and many pastors. The Rev. Arthur Barlow became pastor in 1878, followed by the Rev. James O’Laughlin (1879), the Rev. Christopher O’Byrne (1881), the Rev. George Burris (1881), and the Rev. J. P. Grant (1884).
St. Peter’s Chapel St. Peter’s Chapel, a wooden structure located on Old Lake Shore Rd. between Lake St. and the entrance to the Evans Town Park, looked upon the Lake Erie and beach areas from across the street. In existence as a humble house of worship for approximately 60 years, the summer chapel served the Lake residents and vacationing visitors by providing the opportunity of attending Sunday Mass in the area.While the chapel was utilized in the summer, it is pictured above with remnants of a winter’s snow-fall. The statue of Our Lady of the Lake can be seen on the right. The statue was donated in the early 1950s by Dr. and Mrs. Walter King. Some may recall from the summers of the ’50s that the pastor, Fr. Thomas Fernan, also supervised the weekly offering. With a suppressed smile, he handled the collection basket saying quite audibly, “Let’s have a quiet collection. I don’t want to hear any clinking!
As the successor to Fr. Lalley, the Rev. Thomas E. Fernan came to Angola in February 1949. During the next ten years, the parish enjoyed a period of growth, improvements and innovations: acquisition of a convent to house eight nuns in 1949; redecorating of the church and refurnishing of the sanctuary; installation of a new organ; the acquisi-tion of land on Prospect St. in 1951 and the building of a school on part of it. The doors of the school opened for classes September 9, 1953.Assistants to Fr. Fernan during his tenure included Rev. Salvatore Cusimano, Rev. S. Faiola, Rev. P. Magiewski, Rev. E. Halloran, Rev. F. Barrato, Rev. James Cotter, Rev. Herbert Engelhardt, and Rev. Joseph Spahn.Following Fr. Fernan’s death in May 1959, Rev. Alan Zielinski served as interim administrator until the Rev. Dennis P. Shea became pastor Aug 16, 1959.
In its July 9, 1953 issue, the Evans Journal published two pictures of major construction sites nearing completion: the Lake Shore Central Junior-Senior High School on Beach Rd. and Most Precious Blood’s Elementary School on Prospect St. When MPB’s school opened in September 1953, twelve young teenagers were members of the eighth grade class, which would become the first graduating class of the Parochial Grammar School of Most Precious Blood Parish. The total enrollment in grades K-8 numbered approximately 235 in the first year of the school’s existence. The first graduates (1954) were Gayle Chiappone, Patricia Grady, Joan Guzzeta, Thelma Helberg, Sarah Holcomb, Kathleen Knack, Patricia Laws, Donna Lischarelli, Joseph Reinard, Thaddeus Sara-nia, Sandra Sciarrino and Noreen Smith. Through the years, MPB Parochial School served its parish well, providing a Catholic education for children of its faith community. As total enrollment increased, so did the number of graduating eighth-graders: 20 in 1955; 45 in 1962; 48 in 1966. Enrollment numbers were relatively steady through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, but began to dwindle in the 2000s. As a result, plans began to emerge for the school’s closing in 2007, after 54 years of educating over 1300 children.Members of the last graduating class were: Alisa Butlak, Zachory Kosnik, Daniel Lohr, Nicholas Lopez, Geoffrey Panfil, William Rogers and Rachel Szwed.
After Fr. Shea became pastor in 1959, he acquired property on Prospect St. (inward from Lake St.) for a proposed driveway. This was followed by a groundbreaking July 30, 1961 for a new church and rectory. The first Mass to celebrate their completion took place June 21, 1962. One can see in the photo that the wall figures, now located on the outside of the church building, originally were placed inside the church, around the crucifix above the altar. The Parish Council voted unanimously in January 1969 to build a new convent adjacent to the church. Construction began in July with its completion and occupancy in 1970. The parish celebrated its Hundredth Anniversary in 1971. Assistants to Fr. Shea were: Rev. H. Huber (1959-1967); Rev. Fred Fingerle (1967-1969); and Rev. James Kasprzak (August -November 1969). Fr. Shea retired as pastor of Most Precious Blood in 1981, remaining as Pastor Emeritus until his death June 24, 1995. Church of the Most Precious Blood1871 -Angola, N.Y. -2021Most Precious Blood Parish commemorated the hundredth year of its founding with a week-long celebration. The banner shown above contained the official logo of the Centennial and announced the event from the front lawn. In a letter to parish-ioners, printed in the Centennial program book, Fr. Shea wrote: Today we begin the celebration of the Centennial of our parish with the Apostolic Blessing of his Holiness Pope Paul VI and the visit of our Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Pius A. Benincasa. The Bishop will offer with us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to Almighty God and for one hundred years of grace and blessings bestowed upon our parishioners through these years.The schedule of the week’s events included:Sunday -Pontifical Opening Mass (Aux. Bishop Benincasa); Dinner for clergy and nuns; Parish reception.Monday -Pre-teen skating party.Tuesday -Latin Mass for the Living; Discussion --“Liturgical Changes”.Wednesday -Rosary Altar Society card party, Smorgasbord; Teen Folk Mass ; Teen Dance.Thursday -Mass for the Deceased.Friday -Centennial Bingo.Saturday -Barbecue and Kiddy Rides; Mass for the People of the Parish.Sunday -Thanksgiving Closing Mass (Aux. BishoP Bernard J. McLaughlin).Fr. Shea continued his message by adding: "I feel honored and privileged to be your Pastor on this joyous occasion and I am grateful to all who have assisted me in any way in my 11 years at Most Precious Blood Parish. In return I shall continue to show my gratitude by remembering you all in my daily Masses and prayers. May Almighty God continue to bestow His graces and blessings upon this parish and its parishioners for as many years as it shall exist. "
The Rev. J. Grant Higgins was pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish from 1982 until 1998. His assistants were Rev. Charles Zadora and Rev. John Hajduk. The lake property, on which St. Peter’s Chapel stood, was sold and the structure demolished. The statue of Our Lady of the Lake, which had been donated by Dr. and Mrs. Walter King in the early 1950s, was moved to the church grounds. The parish property in the village acquired a small structure for the use of the school --a relocatable classroom. And the parish benefitted from the services of its Permanent Deacons. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) re-established the Permanent Diaconate in the Church, allowing married men to be ordained ministers of the Church and to perform the duties of a priest with two important exceptions: Reconciliation and the Consecration. The first permanent deacon at Most Precious Blood was Joseph Kane, a parishioner and Chief of the Village of Angola Police Department. He served from 1977 until 1998. Deacon Kane was joined in the 80s and 90s by Deacon Paul Schreiber, working with RCIA; Deacon Richard Kelsey, involved with the school; and Deacon Frank Polizzi. Deacon David Velasquez served in 2006 and 2007 and to date was the last deacon at MPB. Deacons were eligible to deliver homilies, attend to the sick and dying and to preside at baptisms, weddings and funerals. In addition to their spiritual duties at MPB, they also took an active role in parish carnivals , lawn fetes and other fundraisers.
The Annex The small, white structure between the Parish Hall driveway and Lake St. has been part of the MPB “campus” since the 1980s. It was originally a Lake Shore Central “re-locatable” classroom but is now known as MPB’s “Annex.” The Lake Shore School District purchased three of these classrooms in the 1970s to accommodate overflow enrollment at three elementary schools. Each installed unit provided all of the necessary utilities: heat, electricity, water and plumbing. Sr. M. Theophane was principal when MPB school became a flourishing educational institution. She saw the need for occasional remedial services in grades K-8 but was unable to provide them. She contacted William Houston, Superintendent of the Lake Shore Central School District, and asked what could be done. Fortunately, New York State educational regulations had eased a bit to enable public school personnel to provide services to parochial students un-der a public school roof. Since there was no longer a need for all three classrooms at LSC, Mr. Houston made one available to MPB at the Prospect St. site. Public school teachers began to administer reme-dial lessons in reading, speech and math. Mr. Houston recalls meeting Most Rev. Edward D. Head, Bishop of Buffalo and accompanying him to the schoolroom. There the bishop blessed the structure as the superintendent looked on. After the school closed in 2007, the building eventually became property of MPB. Known as the Annex, it has been used as the meeting place for RCIA, Parish Council and many other church groups.
Rev. Bernard U. Nowak became pastor of MPB in 1998 and immediately made repairs and improvements to various properties and structures in the parish. He had the sanctuary renovated and updated; the altar was reconstructed and the acoustical tile was re-moved, revealing a magnificent wooden ceiling; carpeting was replaced; and a baptismal pool was con-structed in front of Mary’s altar. Roofing and furnaces were replaced at the rectory, school and convent. Through monetary gifts made by parishioners, Fr. Nowak purchased a new sound system and an Allen organ for the church. In addition to these projects, he had a chapel built as an addition to the church. This was accomplished with funds donated by parishioners. Completed in 2004, the chapel houses original paintings depicting the Five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Through the years It has been used for Masses, religious instruction classes and as a meeting room for various parish groups and organizations. Fr. Nowak promoted a fuller participation by both men and women in parish ministries and encouraged girls as well as boys to become altar servers. The parish at this time numbered over 1,000 house-holds. The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, Introduced by Pope John Paul II in 2002, the Five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary are recited between the Joyful and Sorrowful mysteries and highlight the role given to Jesus as the “Light of the World.” These mysteries, according to some sources, are commemorated on Thursdays. During the time that Fr. Nowak was MPB’s pastor and was overseeing the construction of the new chapel, he considered the Luminous Mysteries appropriate to identify with the new structure. He enlisted Chester Dimitroff and Rose Bogdan Szwed, the artists who earlier painted most of the wall art in the school cafeteria. The five paintings for the chapel were created by Rose, Chet and Fr. Bernie in the Dimitroff basement art studio. Their renditions favored symbolic concepts rather than the traditional illustrations of biblical scenes. Here, then, are the chapel paintings and their titles:
In January 2005, when Fr. Nowak left for assignments in Chautauqua County, Bishop Edward Kmiec appointed Rev. Matt Mieczyslaw Nycz pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish. Fr. Matt continued improvements and updates, renovating the liturgical brass in the sanctuary and replacing the stairs from the gym area to the cafeteria with a handicap ramp. He reorganized the Parish Council and created Finance and Maintenance Committees. In addition, he organized the Youth Group as well as adult funeral servers. In 2006 the ceiling and lights in the cafeteria were replaced and new round tables were purchased. Fr. Matt began the tradition of offering classical concerts as part of an outreach program. He formed a committee in August 2005 to bring performers to MPB and to promote the concerts. During the year that followed, nearly a dozen classical and sacred programs took place at the church. In addition, a Kurtzmann baby grand piano was donated for use in the sanctuary for worship and concerts. A major change to the parish occurred when the Diocese of Buffalo announced that Most Precious Blood School would be one of the thirteen Catholic schools to close in June 2007 as part of the diocesan restructuring process. Fr. Matt implemented many changes in the Faith Formation Program to accommodate youth no longer served by the school. A Youth Ministry was begun for those of middle and high school age.
After its formation, the concert committee met regularly to make arrangements for each program. This included scheduling, promotion, admission, ushers, program book and post concert reception. While the concerts were considered public relations for the parish, they also served as fundraisers for MPB with the exception of two concerts that bene-fitted Operation Good Neighbor. When the committee first convened, the parish already had sponsored two concerts: Ewa Lewendowski, soprano, and Pawel Staszczyszyn, piano, musicians from Poland; and the Villa Maria Chorale. The third concert spotlighted Cristina Voto, piano, and Maria Szczepanik, soprano. The two sisters had been MPB parishioners in their childhood, had participated in the parish choir in their teens and later were organists/pianists and directors of the choir. This concert was followed by a string quartet that included another former resident of the area, Lynda Dimitroff, cello. During the next five years, various area groups performed at MPB: St. Mary of the Lake choirs and musicians, hand bell choir of the Angola Congregational Church, Canisius College Chorale, Chopin Singing Society, Chautauqua Children’s Choir, Fredonia Chamber Singers and the Lake Effects (Sweet Adeline) Singing Group that included parishioner Sandie Emhof. Lake Shore music teachers Annette & Jim Ieda also performed as did Tom Herlihy. Concerts often celebrated holiday seasons: Palm Sunday --the Kosta Manojlovich Choir of St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church, Lackawanna; the Gift of Christmas --Brittany Mruczek (soprano) and members of New Horizon; Eastertide --Resound with Joy (MPB Music Ministry). From April 2005 to May 2010, MPB hosted 28 concerts that included many professionals from outside of the county and state. The concerts were well attended with audiences not just from MPB, but from throughout Buffalo and Erie County.
Our Lady of the Lake Prayer Garden: Under the leadership of Fr. Matt Nycz, the creation of a prayer garden was the major project of 2009. While its purpose was to provide a serene area for contemplation, its plan incorporated handicap accessibility to the church, chapel and rectory.
Following Fr. Matt’s departure, Rev. Msgr. Fred Voorhees was appointed temporary administrator of the parish. On April 24, 2010, MPB Parish welcomed its new pas-tor, Rev. John S. Kwiecien. Fr. John had been pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in North Collins where he also served as part-time chaplain at the prison facility, a ministry he continued while at MPB. His service, in turn, inspired some from the parish to volunteer their time in this ministry. Parishioners soon learned that occasionally, within the celebration of Mass, Fr. John was inclined to play his guitar and sing during a psalm or hymn. Fr. John continued various maintenance programs throughout the buildings and grounds of MPB with spe-cial attention given to energy-saving projects: lighting, windows, heating. He also updated areas of the church, replacing the sound system and the carpeting and adding brass railings (donated by a parish family) at the altar steps. The school building, now known as the Parish Hall, became the venue for community outreach. It has been available for rental by community groups, such as the Girl Scouts, and by parishioners for private gatherings. In addition to a long-term occupancy by a Karate Club, the gymnasium is used by the Erie County Board of Elections to house some of Evans election districts for local, state and national elections. Most consistently, though, the Lakeshore Association of Christian Churches, through Operation Good Neighbor, continues to use the hall for its weekly food distribution to community recipients. To develop further a spirit of fellowship, Fr. John encouraged participation in the monthly Sunday parish breakfasts, the parish picnic, its pork chop dinner, the Holy Name Society’s chicken barbecue, and spaghetti dinners, the seasonal Mardi Gras celebration, St. Patrick Dinner and St. Joseph Table. He also began the ministry of Helping Hands, a group of parishioners who prepare and serve funeral brunches following the Mass and interment. The purpose of these gatherings is to provide a time of comfort for those who are grieving. Food for the Soul One might question why the dinners at MPB are so noteworthy when considering the history of the parish. Outside of the obvious “spirit of fellowship” motive, the dinners have developed into identifying who we are. They require hours of preparation, teamwork and con-geniality. Along with providing a purpose for some, they are known to build friendships and camaraderie among those who volunteer their time. Over the years, dinners at MPB became quite popular and attracted a larger group of diners each year. Even with limited or no advertising, some attendees at some dinners came from outside the parish, outside the village, outside the town, from distant areas of the county. Each of the three seasonal dinners has its own unique characteristics and attractions. Beginning with Mardi Gras, celebrated before Ash Wednesday, guests are provided with masks, beads and hats. Activities are designed to entertain all age groups: a parade, activities in the gym, movies with pop corn. The menu has included soup, pancakes, chili, hot dogs and King Cake. The Irish Dinner takes place close to St. Patrick’s Day and entertains with a live band and Irish dancers. The menu features classic Irish fare: corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes and carrots, soda bread and bread pudding. An alternate choice is a Reuben on Rye. The St. Joseph’s Day Table, March 19, is known for its absence of meat. It offers lentil soup, pasta, frittatas (omelets), fish, artichokes, burdock, dandelions, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, etc. The desserts usually include cannoli, sfinge, cuccidati and pizzelles. There is no charge for admission, but offerings are accepted. The proceeds, according to tradition, are donated locally to such charitable organizations as St. Vincent de Paul, Ladies of Charity and Operation Good Neighbor.
Fr. John was a member of Reynolds Battery, a group of Civil War
re-enactors who portray Union soldiers when they appear at schools
or in community programs. He was the musician-soldier who played the guitar to accompany his singing of the songs of the era. He presented a concert of these songs, Echoing thru the Camp, at MPB in April 2011.
The present-day Reynolds’ Battery is over 30 years old and is chartered by the NYS Board of Education. Its stated purpose and objectives are to inform, instruct and educate the public of the life and trials of a Civil War Artillery soldier during the 1860s. MPB Parish became a participant in its traditional activities (2013-2018) by annually hosting a Victorian Dinner that offered authentic dishes of the period. The purpose was to raise funds for the battery, enabling its members to continue to educate the public and to “keep history alive.” In 2015 the dinner commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Surrender at Appomattox. Also included in these annual events were demonstrations and displays of items associated with the Civil War era: a forge, medical tent, fashions, weapons. Revisiting the Civil War Era On October 8, 1861, 81 men and officers swore an oath to the Union and were mustered into federal service while stationed in Elmira, New York. Most of these men were from the Rochester area. On November 23, 1861, Company L reported for duty at Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. under the command of Captain John A. Reynolds. The captain used his own personal funds as a guarantee to secure the first six Model 1861, 3” Ordnance Rifles from the Phoenix Iron Works.
The Battery saw action in twenty engagements from 1862 to 1865. These included the Second Battle at Bull Run (August 28-30, 1862) (Manassas), the Battle at Antietam (September 17, 1862) and the
Battle at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863). A total of 320 men entered the service as members of Reynolds’ Battery L. Of these 320, nine were
killed or died from wounds received in action, while 14 died from sickness contracted during their service.
Throughout the six-year cooperative venture with Reynolds Battery, MPB volunteers researched Victorian recipes to provide a variety of food at each banquet. Among the culinary achievements were: (Soups) split pea, Mullagatawny, mock turtle; (Meats) venison, pork chops, rabbit stew, pork pie, meat loaf, turkey, beef pasties; (Vegetables) onion casserole, stewed carrots, dandelions, sliced beets, cabbage stew, green beans; (Breads) corn bread, sweet potato rolls, biscuits, Sally Lunn bread, honey butter, maple butter; (Desserts) blueberry cobbler, maple rice pudding, Indian pudding, molasses cookies. Beverages included coffee, tea, fruit punch and artillery punch.
Pandemic regulations essentially shut down social activities, but MPB Parish and its organization still managed to provide their traditional dinners (spaghetti, pork chop, chicken barbecues) by way of Drive-Thru delivery. These activities have served as examples of the efforts being made to normalize as many services and aspects of parish life as possible. At the helm of MPB during this uncertain time, Fr. Tim is succeeding in meeting the spiritual and financial needs of the parish. Through his homilies and bulletin messages, he shows a deep concern for strengthening individual and parish spirituality, raising morale, and providing an assurance of hope for the future. Fr. Tim has been at MPB for only two years. The challenges brought about by the pandemic and the diocesan spending restrictions have prevented him from moving ahead with major parish projects. He intends, as soon as possible, to resume needed improvements to the windows in the Parish Hall and to the parking lots.
Parish Trustees: According to civil and ecclesiastical law, a parish is a corporation managed by a Board of Trustees: Bishop (president), Vicar General (vice-president), Pastor/Pastoral Administrator (secretary-treasurer) and lay trustees. Lay trustees are parishioners who are selected by the pastor for their financial knowledge and experience. They serve as advisors to the pastor, working closely with the business manager, and attend meetings of the Finance Committee and the Parish Council. Their responsibilities also include reviewing and signing such financial documents as budgets, quarterly reports, annual reports to the parish, updated cemetery information, and financial reports to the Diocese of Buffalo. At the time of the Centennial celebration of Most Precious Blood Parish (1971), the two parish trustees pictured in the commemorative book were Clarence V. Leising and Eugene J. Heil. It was noted that before them, the following had served the parish in the same capacity: William Distel, F. B. Miller, Norman Whitty, Louis DiMartino, Justin V. Walters and Edward Smith. Those who followed, from the 1980s to the present time, are Joseph Newland, Joanne Sack, Barbara Guest, Conrad Piskorz and Elizabeth Duzen
Most Precious Blood School A school is a combination of the tangible and the intangible. It is a building of bricks, mortar, concrete, panes of glass,etc. Above all, It is also a place where knowledge is imparted by a group of people dedicated to developing the minds and talents of others through facts and experiences. October 5, 1952 was the date of the ground-breaking of the building that was to be known as Most Precious Blood Parochial Grammar (Elementary) School. Its construction took nearly a year. The building, whose cost totaled $250,000, opened in September 1953, ready for the beginning of a new (and unprecedented) school year for children in Kindergarten through grade 8.The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph were the guiding force at the beginning of parochial education at MPB. As time passed and enrollment increased, lay teachers were hired to fill the need and round out the faculty roster. The first principal was Sr. M. Felix, FSSJ, who served from 1953 until 1959. Those who followed were: Sr. M. Amelia, FSSJ (1959-1965); Sr. M. Theophane, FSSJ ( 1965-1999); Mrs. Karen L. Schiavone (1999-2005); Mrs. Erica Aikin (2005-2007).In addition to the basic K-8 curriculum, special instructions were added as personnel and time be-came available. These included computers, Spanish, music, art, technology, the DARE program, and physical education. Classes were enriched by field trips to various local and Buffalo venues. Eleven students comprised the first graduating class. The largest class numbered 48 in 1966 and the smallest was 7 in 2007, the last year of the school’s existence. In 54 years a total of 1,266 graduated from MPB.
Devoted to Education Throughout its 54-year history, the School of Most Precious Blood and its educational programs were administered and guided by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. Their origin dates back to 1889 when five Charity Sisters of St. Charles Boromeo arrived in the United States from Poland to teach children in Pittsburgh, Pa. Eventually their motherhouse and novitiate were established in Buffalo until 1928 when they were moved to Hamburg. More than 44 Sisters served MPB as educators during the half-century of the school’s existence. Deserving of special recognition for their service to the school and parish are: Sr. M Theophane, Sr Frances Anne and St. M. Severine. Sr. Theophane taught fifth and sixth grade at MPB and became principal in 1965, a position she filled until her death in 1999. She was known for her unbending determination to provide students with programs and services she knew they deserved. She often relied on the assistance of the superintendent of the Lake Shore School District. Sr. Severine was a member of the MPB faculty from the time the school opened. Through the years she taught over 1,300 youngsters in grades 4-7. After she retired, she continued to serve the school in various capacities, including secretary for atten-dance. A special Mass of Appreciation and Farewell was celebrated June 22, 2008 to honor Sr. Severine before her departure from MPB. Sincerely humble, she was even a reluctant guest at her own reception that followed. When a parishioner asked, ”How are you doing, sister?,” she replied, ”Oh, I hate this,” indicating her distaste for the spotlight. Sr. Severine died January 22, 2011. A Memorial Mass was celebrated at Most Precious Blood Church February 2.
The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, as educators at MPB, are now a memory, but they will long be remembered for their dedication to the children and to their ultimate goal of Peace. The Peace Pole, located in front of the school building, was a gift from them to the parish. Its message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” is in six languages: English, Sign, Paw Prints, Seneca, Latin and Spanish. It reminds us that each individual is responsible for spreading peace throughout the world.
Competition encourages achievement not only in sports but in academics as well. Once experienced in athletics, it can easily be transferred to the learning process in the classroom. The sports program at MPB began soon after the school opened but did not come into its own until the 70s and 80s. A combination of determined coaches and groups of caring and untiring parents (boosters) took MPB sports to new levels. Karen Erickson, in summarizing the sports program in the 2007 memory book, wrote: “The 30-week club was formed in 1973 by Kathy Connors and myself and ran for 23 years. Captains [through the years included] Kathy Connors, Karen Erickson, Eileen Hansen, Jerry Fortain, Teresa Latimore, Teresa Jerozal, Barbara Alfano, Barbara Guest. Sandy Parisi, Evelyn Paradiso, Marge McIntyre, Loretta Radder, Helen Bress, Shirley Bogdan, Dave Pezzimenti, Chris Taylor, Mary Waring, Mary Lou McEvoy and Gene Kauzala.“ The first year we paid for the students to visit the Science Center. The next year we hired a gym teacher (Moms volunteered as gym teachers in the first years).”Teams were formed in basketball, baseball, soft-ball, track, bowling and soccer. MPB soon established a reputation of strong sports performance. It won its first diocesan baseball championship in 1986 and continued to dominate in other sports as well. In 1973 Erickson helped to organize a basketball tournament. “Eventually 32 teams would be represented,” she wrote. The kitchen offered soups and snacks, prepared and donated by parishioners and parents, making it a parish event. The tournaments paid all athletic expenses. There was never any cost to the parish for any athletic or sports expenses.
The Spirit of Competition
George Laettner was the longest serving coach in MPB’s sports history. He coached basketball for over 30 years, retiring in 1996. In the memory book, Erickson noted:“George was the ultimate coach. He loved the game, loved the kids and knew how to coach. Sometimes we thought that MPB played more games than the Celtics. George taught honesty, integrity and good sportsmanship. ”The most known and talented athlete from MPB is Christian Laettner, son of Bonnie and George, who went on to Nichols, a private high school in Buffalo. While competing in basketball there, he scored over 2,000 points and the team won two state titles. He attended Duke University where he continued in basketball from 1988 to 1992. His fame soared when he scored the game winning basket at the buzzer in the 1992 East Regional Final against Kentucky. In basketball circles it is known simply as “the shot.” He was the only college player selected to participate in the Olympics that year. He was a part of the group known as the “Dream Team” that won the gold medal. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.Christian Laettner played in the NBA from 1992 to 2005. The 6’11” forward/center was first drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves and was associated later with the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat and the Jacksonville Giants.* * * * * * * * *Karen Erickson ends her article with her retirement as sports director in 1998, passing the position on to Mary Lou McEvoy, followed later by Fran Sullivan, the Coopers and the Freidenbergs. She concludes with “I am sure I speak for many when I say ‘thank you’ MPB for giving my children a terrific start in life, great fun and wonderful memories.
CAFETERIA ART It all started with an informal conversation about biblical artwork,” explained Rose Bogdan Szwed, a parishioner and one of the artists of the wall paintings in the cafeteria of MPB’s school, now the Parish Hall. “One thing led to another,” she continued, “when Fr. Nowak suggested that it would be great if we created murals depicting some of the stories of the Bible with such themes as creation, faith, love, hope, trust, etc. They would serve as teaching tools for the children.” Fr. Nowak asked her to contact Chester (Chet) Dimitroff, another parishioner and a member of the Evans Art Guild, to find out if he would be interested in the project. Chet’s first reaction to the request was a bit negative. “It seemed like a monumental task and the thought of climbing up and down a lad-der to and from scaffolding really didn’t appeal to me,” he confessed. “But I felt guilty about refusing to contribute something to the church, so I agreed to do it,” he said. Once the project was underway, he had a change of attitude and admitted, “It truly became a labor of love. ”After researching numerous subjects and visiting many reference books, Rose reported to the “team” who decided on ten wall paintings. Work began in 2000 and lasted for two and a half years. Rose was responsible for the research, the charcoal sketching and some of the painting. She acknowledges others for their major contributions: Fr. Nowak for “the Vision;” Chet Dimitroff as the Master Portrait Painter; Alphonso Butlak IV for finishing the painting of the last work; inspired parishioners for their donations for art supplies, paint and brushes, and for the scaffolding. Rose summarizes her role in the art project by commenting, “It was truly an exciting adventure. I was so honored to be a part of it. ”The “Agony and the Ecstasy” At MPB The title of Irving Stone’s 1961 historic novel about Michelangelo and the painting of the Sistine Chapel describes the passions and frustrations that accompany the desire to create. The first work is that of the Creation. “We were halfway through the painting,” explains Chet Dimitroff, “and already had depicted a God figure hovering over his creation as a very old man with long, white flow-ing hair and a long white beard. Fr. Nowak reminded us that God is neither man nor woman. So we repainted the God figure by remov-ing the beard and softening the facial features. ”The next painting is of the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain farmed the land and Abel tended the flock. Both are preparing to make a sacrifice to the Lord as indicated by the flames in the background. Cain offers up the wheat from the land and Abel is ready to give up the first born of the flock. Cain became jealous when the Lord was so pleased with Abel’s offering and not his, all of which motivated the killing of his brother. This depiction of the Great Flood begins after God instructed Noah to build a boat large enough to hold his family and seven pairs each of clean and unclean animals and birds. The flood was to destroy all of mankind. Noah, listened to God and did what he was told. The white dove holding a twig and leaf was a sign to Noah that the water was receding and the flood would soon be over.
CAFETERIA ART (con't) Jacob’s Ladder shows the sleeping Jacob, with his head upon a stone, dreaming of a ladder reaching up to Heaven. Angels are pictured ascending and descending the ladder. Jacob awoke after the Lord came to him and assured him of being protected. Upon rising, he took the stone, anointed it, and said this would be the place where he would worship. Chet Dimitroff admitted that this was the most difficult of all the paintings because of the detail of the ten angels moving in various directions and the larger figure of Jacob in a reclining position. Ruth, a woman from Moab, married the son of an Israelite family. Her husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law all died. She had to decide whether to stay in Moab or to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Judah. Be-cause of her love and compassion for Naomi, Ruth journeyed back to Judah to the city of Bethlehem where the two women settled. To provide food for them both, she worked in the fields gleaning (gathering left-over grain after the harvest). Boaz, a relative of Naomi, owned the fields and noticed Ruth and respected her for being so faithful and watchful over her mother-in-law. The two eventually married. Ruth trusted the Lord and He rewarded her faithful-ness by giving her a husband, a son (Obed), a grandson (Jesse) and a great-grandson (David, King of Israel). He also blessed her with being listed in the lineage of Jesus.The “Agony and the Ecstasy” At MPB The title of Irving Stone’s 1961 historic novel about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel describes the passions and frustrations that accompany the desire to create. This painting is of the peaceful kingdom coming from the royal line of David (Isaiah 2:4, 11:6) --“when calves will lie down with lion cubs and weapons shall be hammered into plow shares.” For this painting the calf became a lamb. The peaceful scene replaced the depiction of Samson and Delilah that the artists, Chet Dimitroff and Rose Szwed, already had completed. That painting was of Samson with gouged-out eyes after Delilah tricked him into divulging the source of his strength and after his capture by the Philistines. The pastor strongly suggested that it be painted over because it was too graphic for the school children. Consider the contrast between the two paintings .... and the agony of having to destroy one. Daniel's raised to high office by King Darius. But jealous rivals trick the king into issuing a decree that anyone who prays to any-one except Darius would be thrown to the lions. Daniel continues to pray to the God of Israel and Darius is forced to condemn him to death. The next day, when Darius rushes to learn of the outcome of his edict, Daniel is still alive and informs him that his God, finding him blameless, sent an angel to close the jaws of the lions. The king then commands the conspirators, their wives and children be thrown to the lions and that the world should fear the God of Daniel.
Jesus in the Temple His parents looked for him and found him in the Temple talking to the Jewish teachers, who were amazed by him. When they asked him of his whereabouts, Jesus replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” According to Chester Dimitroff, there is a personal touch in this painting: “While I was painting Jesus’ right hand, I had no hand reference, so I looked at mine and copied all the lines of my right palm. ”Baptism of Jesus. “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.” (Luke 3:21-24)“This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”(John 1:30-34)The Good Shepherd. The figure of Jesus is hanging over a cliff to save one of his sheep who has gone astray. We are told, “I am the Good Shepherd who is willing to die for his sheep,” (John 10:11) and “I am the Good Shepherd. As the Father knows me, and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them.” (John 10:14-15) Jesus Feeds the 5,000The disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away, but Jesus told the disciples to feed them. “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” was the reply. Jesus directed that the food be brought to him and that the peo-ple sit down on the grass. He took the loaves and the fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave the food to the disciples to give to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. This was the painting that was sketched and left for months unpainted. Ultimately, a talented young man, Alphonso Butlak IV, was called upon to paint the scene. Many thanks to the artists for their magnificent works and to Chester Dimitroff and Rose Szwed for their colorful accounts of their experiences. For anyone who was wondering, acrylic paints and sealers were used to ensure the murals would be preserved and remain water resistant.
A parish is defined as: an area, or administrative district, that has its own church and pastor; it is also the group of people who attend the church in that particular area. Over the past 150 years, parishioners of Most Precious Blood Church have come together, especially in the last 75 years, to be organized into special ministries, organizations and committees for the benefit of the parish. It was Mother Teresa (1911-1997) who gave direction to volunteerism when she expressed, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This has become MPB’s motto: Let us do little things with great love. She also said, “Love cannot remain by itself --it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service. The next phase in commemorating MPB’s history is to spotlight these special service organizations by pointing out their purpose and their accomplishments. Some of them are no longer active because their need has disappeared or volunteers have not been forthcoming.
Prayer Shawl Ministry:
Through the efforts of Arlene Vail, the Prayer Shawl Ministry was formed in March 2008 with approximately 15 members, including one man. It was a group of people who used their knitting and crocheting talent to create prayer shawls and lap blankets to comfort the seriously ill and those undergoing medical procedures or surgery. In seven years the group created about 400 shawls and lap blankets which were distributed to: parishioners, MOMM (Mothers of Military Ministry), Roswell Institute, Lake Shore and Autumn View nursing homes, Buffalo VA Hospital, F.S.S.J. Mother House, and various other nursing homes. Seventeen blankets were sent to Soldiers Angels which distributed them to the VA Hospital in Spokane. The group also teamed with the MPB Baptismal Ministry to provide blankets to babies and children receiving the sacrament. The ministry disbanded in the spring of 2015.
Knights of St. John:
The Knights of St. John, a society of Catholic men, organized in the United States in 1886. A number of uniformed semi-military Catholic societies banded together under the title of “Roman Catholic Union of the Knights of St. John and grew rapidly in the United States, Canada, South America and Africa. Founders placed the society under the protection of St. John the Baptist, the patron of the Knights of St. John Hospitallers, which dates back to 1048. Catholic merchants formed a military society to protect them from the Turks attacking their trade routes. The modern Knights emulated the virtues of their medieval counterparts: filial devotion to and respect for the authority of the Roman Catholic Church; a sense of honor; love of truth; courage; respect for womanhood; charity motivated by love for God. In 1963 Clarence Leising, with help from the Buffalo Regiment, succeeded in establishing a local commandery of the Knights in Angola. At its spiritual head was MPB’s pastor, Rev. Dennis Shea. The Knights took an active part in Church activities and liturgical functions at MPB. They added dignity and color to First Communions, visitations of dignitaries and other church functions. They also had the honor of guarding the Blessed Sacrament in processions. The group is now “dormant” but has not officially disbanded.
The Bishop’s Committee was made up of two groups: the Visiting Committee and the Discussion Group. Both had as their purpose the educating of children from infancy in the knowledge and love of God. To fulfill their purpose, the Visiting Committee made home calls at regular intervals on mothers of infants. They provided pamphlets to help parents meet the moral and spiritual needs during the early development of their child. This group organized at MPB in 1949.The Discussion Group began in 1965 in order to bring together mothers interested in educating themselves on how to teach their young ones about their Faith. No longer is either group of the Bishop’s Committee in existence.
Rosary and Altar Society:
The Rosary and Altar Society is associated with the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, Domini-can Friars, Province of St. Joseph, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Established by charter dated October 27, 1957 at Most Precious Blood Church, the initial membership was 349. Members are called Rosarians. Once enrolled, a woman is a Rosarian for life. Prior to 1957, the women’s organization at MPB was the Ladies Sodality. A plaque on the door of Room 2 in the Parish Hall reads: Kindergarten Room, donated by Ladies Sodality 1953. Members of the Rosary and Altar Society share common devotional and service goals. They praise and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and secure her patronage by the recitation of the Rosary. Through such fundraising activities as bake sales, raffles and towel parties, they contribute financially to MPB, especially for the needs of the altar. All women of the parish, 17 years and older, are eligible for membership. In the past 64 years, 821 women have been inducted into the society. At present there are 275 members.
Ladies of Charity:
Beginning in 1970 with nineteen women of the parish, the Ladies of Charity came together to assist the needy. Through the collection of donations and gifts for the Giving Tree at Christmas time, they distribute clothes and toys to families in need. The group also raises the spirits of shut-ins by visiting them at Christmas and Easter with a gift of a small plant.
Holy Name Society:
An organization for the men of Most Precious Blood, the Holy Name Society serves to promote the welfare of the parish through religious and social activities. The primary purpose of the group is to revere the Holy Name of God and Jesus Christ. To raise funds for the benefit of the parish, mem-bers annually host activities including those that promote dining: Spaghetti Dinner, Pork Chop Dinner, Chicken Barbecue.
St. Vincent De Paul Society The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the oldest layman’s organization in the diocese. Its conference, or branch, is the oldest organization in Most Precious Blood Parish, having been organized in November 1937. The original Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in France in 1833 by a group of students at the University of Paris, led by Frederic Ozanam. In an era when the Church was being called decadent by its enemies, Ozanam and eight colleagues formed, in the name of Christ, a Conference for Charity. It was dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul, who 200 years before was known as the “Apostle of Charity.” These young people cared for the poor of Paris and were such an example of Christianity in action, that Conferences began to spring up all over France and soon in Spain, Germany, England, Ire-land and other parts of Europe and the rest of the world. John Timon founded Conferences in New York City and St. Louis. When he became Bishop of Buff a l o , h e s t a r t e d o n e i n t h e a r e a .The local Conference provides material help to persons and families in need. Financed by donations, special collections and the congregation’s generosity to the Poor Boxes, aid is in the form of food, clothing and shelter on a short term basis. When more assistance is needed, contact is made with social agencies.
The Parish Council of Most Precious Blood Church was established in 1967 as a result of the many changes made by Vatican II. These changes led to a more involved role by the laity in the activities of the Church. Rev. Dennis Shea selected the members to serve on the first Parish Council. They represented various parish organizations whose interests included charity, liturgy, religious education, parish construction, fundraising, and general parish welfare. Fr. Matt Nycz, almost forty years later, drew up a constitution that stated that the purpose of the organization was : “to nurture the growth of Chris-tian faith within the parish by advising, assisting and supporting the pastor as he leads the parish on its spiritual journey. It shall also encourage fellow parishioners to remain faithful to the parish mission of using their time, treasure and talents to serve God and one another by doing little things with great love.” The constitution also provided, in addition to members representing parish organizations, an election of three members each year for a two-year term. Eventually, through a constitutional amendment when Fr. John Kwiecien was pastor, these three “elected” members were then selected from nominations by means of a random drawing. In this Sesquicentennial year, amid the COVID protocols, Parish Council continues to meet and dis-cuss pertinent issues with its pastor, Fr. Timothy Koester, who serves, like those before him, as council president.
Finance Committee: The Finance Committee serves as a review board whose purpose is to ascertain that parish spending is within the bounds of budgeted amounts. Members, whose expertise is in finance and/or business, are appointed by the pastor who is presid-ing officer at monthly meetings.
The primary purpose of Respect Life ministry is to encourage parishioners to reaffirm their Christian commitment to human life. The focus is respect for all human life at all stages of existence. One of the important activities of the members of Respect Life is to collect infant items for the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center in Buffalo. The center serves life by providing material, emotional and spiritual support to single mothers and young families in need, from pregnancy through the first years of life. Members of the local group also makes the parish aware of other activities, such as peaceful prayer demonstrations in the Buffalo area in support of life .
Most Precious Blood Parish in the 60s, 70s and 80s joined with many other parishes in offering its constantly successful fundraising project - Bingo. At least 25 loyal workers attended to their duties once a week to bring the popular game of chance to hundreds of hopeful residents of the community. Whether handing out cards, calling the numbers or checking the numbers of possible winners, the workers took their job seriously while enjoying the fellowship. But the fundraiser eventually disappeared. Poor attendance resulted from strict governmental rules on prize amounts as well as the ban on smoking on the premises.
(A brief look at Vatican Council 2 is a preface to this week’s historical account of the laity’s participation in the Mass at Most Precious Blood Church.)The Second Vatican Council was opened in 1962 by Pope John XXIII and ended in 1965 by Pope Paul VI. Its purpose was to meet the needs of the modern world. Among its many changes were those directly affecting the celebration of the Holy Mass. It allowed the laity more of a role in the celebration of the Mass, it changed the language of the Mass from Latin to the vernacular, it provided for the celebrant to face the congregation, and included contemporary Catholic liturgical music and art-work. Almost sixty years later, at the end of 2020, Pope Fran-cis reaffirmed the spirit of Vatican Council 2 and formally spelled out that women were allowed to serve as lectors, distribute communion and act as altar servers. Although these practices have been in place in the United States for nearly fifty years, Pope Francis felt the need to emphasize their existence to the rest of the world.
At the present time, because of the rules brought about by COVID-19, there has been a noticeable absence of altar servers at Mass at MPB. Despite this absence, altar servers have been an integral part of the parish history in assisting the priest during Mass on Sunday, during the week, at funerals, at weddings and at special celebrations. Those who participate as altar servers may be boys, girls, men and women. Their duties include carrying the cross and processional candles, holding the book when the priest is not at the altar, carrying the incense and censer, presenting the bread, wine and water to the priest during the preparation of the gifts or assisting the priest when he receives the gifts from the people, and washing the hands of the priest. Love cannot remain by itself --it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service. -Mother Teresa
Defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sacristan is the person “in charge of the sacristy and church related ceremonial equipment.” MPB’s sacristan, Mrs. Diann Hosler, has served in that position for twenty years. In addition to setting up for Mass, she attends to the candles as well as the floral arrangements.
A Eucharistic Minister, or an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, is a lay person who assists the priest in administering the sacrament of Holy Communion, the consecrated bread and wine. The minister may also take the sacrament to those who are ill or unable to attend Mass. At every Mass, there should be a sufficient number of ministers of Holy Communion so that its distribution is reverent and orderly. While Vatican Council 2 provided for these members of the laity, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 70s that women began to serve in this ministry at MPB.
In 1971, Most Precious Blood’s centennial year, eleven lectors served at Mass , all men. By 1977 women were added to the roster of readers. The centennial book, in describing this ministry stated, “For the first time in centuries, members of the laity were permitted to be heard in a Catholic Church during Mass.” During the first few years, the lay reader was almost invisible, reading from the choir loft. Today the lector reads at a lectern, facing the congregation who responds to each reading.
During the time of the centennial, there were about thirty ushers who served to meet, greet and seat the congregation, to supervise the weekly collection and to aid in the comfort of those in attendance. They would also invite persons to present the gifts at the Offertory. Fifty years later, their duties are the same although their numbers may not be as great or COVID has caused restrictions of some duties.
Over the years Religious Education has had various titles to identify its role in disseminating the Word of God and the teachings of Christ. Fifty years ago the term Con-fraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), although having ancient origins, referred to the religious instruction of public school youth (middle and high school ages). Teaching of Church doctrine to children from Kindergarten through grade 5 or 6 was designated simply as Religious Ed. or Religious Instruction. After the closing of Most Precious Blood School in June 2007, “Faith Formation” was used to denote religious education for all ages. This was the all-encompassing term for public school students K-12 as well as continuing religious learning by adults (Bible Study). Middle and high school students continued to be known also as youth groups. From 1953 religious education was managed by the faculty, mainly the sisters and eventually lay teachers or a combination of the two. Theresa Walker was named Coordinator of Religious Education in 2006 and later Director of Faith Formation. She was joined by Carolyn Grassmick, who directed the youth ministry. A number of parishioners are K-5 classroom instructors (catechists) or help with the youth ministry. In recent years the addition of the Children’s Liturgy of the Word aims to clarify readings at Sunday Mass in terms understandable by young children. After the opening prayer, the children are summoned, given a blessing and led to a site close to the church. There a catechist leads them in reflecting on the Word of God after which the children rejoin their parents. Elizabeth Emhof has led this ministry since 2012. The Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) is a program for both adults and children wanting to know more about the Catholic religion, desiring to become a Catholic or for those who have missed any of the sacraments. Marie O’Connor has been in charge of the program for children since 2010 and is now RCIA Coordinator. Many RCIA “graduates” have become active parishioners of MPB. The children’s Christmas pageant in 2012 was set in Jerusalem. A portion of the pageant depicted Santa Claus in a conversation with God. In December 2012 MPB’s High School Youth Group and the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW, Post #5798, prepared special holiday boxes to be sent to servicemen and women stationed overseas. The youth groups also participate in fundraising projects to finance their expenses or to contribute to charitable organizations. Their service has included spring cleanup at the cemetery and at the Prayer Garden, helping other organizations in various events or projects, and providing baby-sitting services during Christmas shopping days. After fourteen years of service to MPB, Theresa Walker retired September 18, 2020. Carolyn Grassmick retired from Youth Ministry in 2021, also with fourteen years of service to MPB.
*According to information published in the 1971 Centennial book, the first mention of a choir and organist at Most Precious Blood Parish was during the pastorate of Rev. J.M. McCarthy (1886-1902). Anna Woods served as organist and choir director at that time and during the pastorate of Rev. Richard T. Burke as well (1902-1912). She was followed by Mayme Wiatrowski, Hattie Schwert and Louise Woods (1912-1935).Renee Parks was the organist at MPB when Rev. John J. Lalley was named pastor (1935-1949). After she moved out of the area, Veronica Walters assumed the music duties. Her brother, Rev. Bertrand J. Gulnerich, was Fr. Lalley’s assistant and directed the choir. When Rev. Thomas E. Fernan became pastor (1949-1959), he appointed Mae Voltz church organist. Mrs. Walters returned in 1959 to resume the responsibilities of the music ministry, which emphasized youth participation. With the exception of a few adult mem-bers, the choir was primarily made up of youngsters of elementary and junior high ages. Her service as church organist spanned at least thirty years, more than any provider of music on record. During that time, she inspired and nurtured many of the young people who performed with her. Among her protégés, who eventually continued serv-ing in the music ministry, are Cristina (Tina) Scaglione Voto and her sister Maria Scaglione Szczepanic. When Mrs. Walters vacationed, twelve-year-old Tina filled in at the organ. Three years later, when Mrs. Walters retired, Tina assumed the organist position until 1983 when she left for college to study music. After becoming a teacher of music, Tina has continued her avocation as church musician in her home parishes for the past thirty years. She is a teacher of stringed instruments and the orches-tra director at Frontier Central High School. Maria replaced her sister at the organ until she started college studies in music in 1986. She came back to the area in the 90s and became the organist and vocalist until 2005. For a brief time she also taught music at MPB’s school. She returned in 2008 and continued as organist/vocalist until 2017. A teacher of vocal music in Orchard Park High School, Maria served in MPB’s music ministry for twenty-five years.
|27||The Sesquicentennial celebration of Most Precious Blood Church has been in the spotlight for the past six months. It will conclude Sunday, September 26 with a special Mass beginning at 10:30 a.m. Throughout this six-month period, parishioners have been reminded of MPB’s 150 years with the banner above the front entrance of the church, a special prayer at the beginning of weekend Masses, and the weekly historic segments in the bulletin. The first 100 years were recorded in the 1971 Centennial book. It contained messages from the bishop, auxil-iary bishops, and the pastor. Its pages were filled with photographs of former pastors, the church staff, members of ministries and organizations and buildings that showed the growth of the parish. The book also provided a calendar of events in its week-long celebration: a Latin Mass, a teen folk Mass, a discussion group, pre-teen skating party, a card party, a teen dance, Bingo, barbecue and kiddy rides, and a cocktail party. The opening Pontifical Mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Pius Benincasa. Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin presided over the Thanksgiving closing Mass. In stark contrast, this year’s 150th anniversary celebration has had severe restrictions placed on it, caused by strict adherence to COVID protocols. In addition to the Masses planned to open and conclude this important historic milestone, the outdoor picnic that took place last weekend is the single social-gathering event. For eighteen months now, parish life has been altered considerably. As previously reported, churches were closed and there would be no regularly scheduled Masses in the Diocese for three months. This occurred from March 16, 2020 until June, when they were permitted to open at 25% of capacity. In May 2021 Mass attendance was permitted at 50% of capacity at MPB. After most parishioners received doses of the vaccine to curb the transference of the virus, the wearing of masks became optional at Mass except for those distributing Communion. Other rules, however, are still in effect: the absence of holy water, no carrying the gifts up to the altar, no sign of peace, standing in place to receive the Holy Eucharist, no sharing of wine.|
A 10:30 a.m. Mass will be celebrated Sunday, September 26 for the people of the parish and will conclude MPB’s 150th Anniversary commemoration. This is in addition to Masses at 4:00 p.m. Saturday and at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. This Mass will welcome back former pastor Fr. John Kwiecien and a group of Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. Following the Mass, those in attendance will be able to walk through the Parish Hall to rekindle memories of the school.
A Look Back on the History of MPB
--By Rev. Timothy Koester, Pastor.
Through the darkness of the lock-downs I made my way down to the lake. In good weather and bad, I tried to catch the sunset. I would sit on the beach or overlooking the beach sometimes, watching workers clean up after storms or winter devastation. In awe I reflected on the sun’s rising and setting at sea, on some beautiful and amazing coasts. The Lake Erie coast in the Town of Evans is right up at the top of the list of places I have been and seen. I look up toward Buffalo and down toward Dunkirk and have come to discern certain landmarks from different points. I’ve been able to recognize ships anchored, waiting to enter the Welland Canal. My imagination has allowed me to envision the Griffin, the flagship Niagara and the many grain ships sailing and steaming by. Evans came into being as Buffalo burst into growth because of this lake and the Erie Canal. Congratulations on 200 years, Town of Evans! Fifty years on, the Catholic presence in the town be-came prominent enough to establish a parish and open a church. We have been greatly enlightened by the wonderful history columns put together by Rosemary Scaglione and the committee that prepared this commemoration. What a wonderful job. Thank you. It was an important and interesting journey, first through the pastors and buildings; through the school and religious women who were essential to the community. The long-serving Protestant Superintendent of Schools was heard to call us his “fifth building” because of how integral to the community we were. It is a great testament to him and his character, and a wonderful acknowledgment to our commitment to our home. We had a chance to walk through our organizations and ministries, all of which reached out to the greater community. Social support and camaraderie have always been central to our existence. Personal commitment and sharing of talents are truly a highlight of our history. The cemetery, supported by the Passionists, to the beautiful memorial park today is an ongoing testimony to the names that have made us. I find it very comforting to walk through and offer an extra prayer to individuals as I pass. There-in lies the truth. It is the people who have made and now make this parish. The people who found friendships, spouses and family. People who scraped together the funding to help us continue on. People will-ing to learn from and teach one another. People who cried and mourned, laughed and celebrated together. People who have prayed for and supported one another. At the core we have been and are a community of faith, steeped in the Catholic tradition that gives us purpose and eternal life. It is the highest honor for me to be a part of this godly community today, to be in the near-est moment of heaven on earth when we gather in the celebration of the Eucharist. The committee worked diligently for our celebration. We looked at the 100th Anniversary and talked about a fair, a school reunion, a ball, and a week-long festival. But, alas, COVID and threats of COVID, constant changes and a chancy future brought us to a program I enthusias-tically endorsed. From the anniversary of our first recorded Baptism to today, we endeavored to walk through our history here, our praying our Anniversary Prayer together and hope-fully at home, and our Eucharistic gatherings. I thank and congratulate the committee for their conscientious and committed hard work. Please acknowledge with me our co-chairs, Karen Young and John Latimore, and a special recognition to the parish staff and most importantly to Mary Lou McEvoy, who always does make it happen. Thank you to all who have been a part of this awe-some community for 150 years. Welcome and thank you to all who have come back during this time. We appreciate those who have been here through so much of the modern era. Thank you for sharing in our faith journey. May the coming years always reflect the Glory of God.
Anniversary Prayer :
Heavenly Father, as we celebrate our past and rejoice in our present, we give thanks to You for Your goodness through all the years of worship and camaraderie in our parish of Most Precious Blood. “Let us do little things with great love” into a future of hope and promise in you Name. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.