Bishop Richard J. Malone visited Sacred Heart Parish in Bowmansville to dedicate a Marian statue in February. As Mass began, women and children in a variety of ethnic costumes, representing the church's history, sparkled the aisles with bright colors. Father Joseph Klos, pastor, Knights of Columbus members, and uniformed Scouts stood ready for the procession.
Father Joseph Klos graciously welcomed Bishop Malone, saying his assignment to Sacred Heart was at the top of his gratitude list.
"Parishioners needed a pastor, and I needed a loving family," he said. "We found each other, by God's providence and our bishop's decision."
Bishop Malone expressed his joy in joining the parish for the dedication of the Lady of Fatima statue. The statue is important in the parish's history. Ron Huefner, parish historian, kept a record of some of that story, which he presented at the ceremony. Huefner explained how Father Earl Kleis, former pastor of the parish, made a pilgrimage to Fatima, and happened to meet sculptor Jose Ferriera Thedim who created the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima. They became friends and, impressed by Father Kleis's devotion, Thedim offered him a statue in his studio. After a bit of fundraising, the statue of Mary arrived in Western New York more than 60 years ago.
Father Klos described the place of the statue of Mary, as the parish moves forward.
"There are many things in our plan," he said. "The most important task, however, is to build our faith community, strong in faith and love for others, especially those underprivileged and vulnerable. We rediscover a person who can help us in our journey of faith, the Mother of Jesus, and our Mother, in her tremendous image of Our Lady of Fatima, which I'm so privileged to have in our church."
After Mass, Father Klos took a moment to thank everyone. He also encouraged Bishop Malone to visit again.
"This is very quiet, very quiet, suburban Bowmansville," Father Klos said, to much warm laughter and applause. "If you ever feel the pressure and you want to come and rest, you are welcome."
There is another reason to make a pilgrimage to the Sacred Heart Shrine. When nicer weather arrives, daily Masses are celebrated outdoors. Trees and greenery frame the stone altar and encompass spacious benches for a unique devotional experience.
"This visit certainly assures me that we have here a very vital, growing parish," Bishop Malone said at the conclusion of the liturgy. "It's so good to see so many young people. I just encourage you to keep on growing as a community of faith, and to be together all that the Lord invites us to be."