BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two Holy Name Province parishes in upstate New York will merge with several other churches in a realignment plan to strengthen churches in the Diocese of Buffalo.
The parishes of Saints Rita & Patrick in Buffalo and St. Bonaventure in Allegany will be in transition, along with 39 other ministries in the Central and East Buffalo, Riverside/Black Rock, and Southern Cattaraugus vicariates, as part of the Journey in Faith and Grace strategic planning and spiritual revitalization initiative.
News of the restructuring was made July 1 by the Office of Communications of the Diocese of Buffalo, and announced to church members at weekend Masses. More information will be forthcoming as the transitions evolve.
The Holy Name parish of Saints Rita & Patrick, led by James Czerwinski, will merge with Precious Blood, Holy Apostles Peter & Paul, St. Valentine and St. Stephen to form a single parish with a new name at the St. Stephen site. The new parish will decide on disposition of buildings and properties, according to the diocesan announcement. The Franciscan friars will provide a pastor for the merged parish and transfer their ministry from Saints Rita & Patrick Parish, pictured here, to the St. Stephen’s site.
St. Bonaventure, under the leadership of Richard Husted, will be the new spiritual home of the mission of St. John the Baptist in Vandalia. The merged parish will continue to be under the care of the friars. The new parish will determine future use of the Vandalia site.
In addition, it was announced that St. Pacificus Parish in Humphrey, N.Y., will merge into Holy Name of Mary Parish in Ellicottville. St. Pacificus Church, which has long been a mission of the St. Bonaventure University friary, will no longer be used for weekend liturgies but will become an oratory. St. Pacificus was the last remaining parish founded by Fr. Pamfilio de Magliano, who founded St. Bonaventure University. Franciscan friars from Italy settled in Western New York in 1855 and built the church that year. In its news release, the diocese said it is grateful to the Franciscan friars for their many years of ministry in Humphrey.
This news is the third in a series of recommendations from the Diocese of Buffalo to identify the religious, spiritual and educational needs of the Catholic faithful in the area, and to decide how to best meet those needs.
Members of the affected parishes were asked to form committees to smooth the transition over the next three to six months. Buffalo Bishop Edward Kmiec, who launched the Strategic Planning Commission of the Journey in Faith and Grace in June 2005, expressed confidence in the restructuring plan.
“It is difficult to ask people to change, but when parishes come together, wonderful things can happen,” he said. “There is more vibrancy, more parish life and more opportunity to grow together as a stronger, more resilient faith community. Stronger lay leadership emerges, laying the foundation for a new Church with greater potential.”
Holy Name Province member James Vacco, an instructor at St. Bonaventure University, serves on the Strategic Planning Commission.
The Diocese of Buffalo said that all parish recommendations are carefully evaluated in terms of demographic information, Catholic population analysis, sacramental and fiscal data, and pastoral planning. In some cases, reconfiguration decisions include research and planning that predates the Journey.
Affected pastors have been provided with written implementation guidelines to assist them and their parishioners in completing the restructuring, including establishing a timeframe and coordinating other transition-related details.