Father William R. Bigelow, retired pastor of the Diocese of Buffalo, will celebrate his Golden Anniversary of ordination to the priesthood this March. Father Bigelow was ordained a priest by Bishop Paulus Rausch at St. Paul's Church in Innsbruck, Austria on March 11, 1967.
After ordination, he returned to the Diocese of Buffalo and was assigned to the Missionary Apostolate in Hinsdale and Sinclairville. Following that first year, Father Bigelow served as associate pastor at SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Hamburg, St. Peter Parish in LeRoy, and St. James Parish in Buffalo. In 1983, Bishop Edward Head appointed him as pastor of St. Michael's in Warsaw. He also served as co-pastor and Campus Minister St. Joseph's University Parish and at the University of Buffalo's south campus. Father Bigelow went on to become pastor at St. Amelia's in Tonawanda and Holy Family Parish in South Buffalo, his home parish.
His final assignment was to be pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Hamburg. He was privileged to follow in the footsteps of his great-uncle, Father Charles S. Rochford, who had been pastor of the growing parish from the late 1950s until 1972. During this period, a school was built. Upon reaching the ordinary retirement age of 70 in 2010, Father Bigelow retired from active ministry. He has remained active in the diocese by helping out in various parishes. Since 2012, Father Bigelow has lived in St. Petersburg, Fla., returning to Western New York for the summer months. He continues to serve parishes both in the Diocese of Buffalo and the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
Father Bigelow is a native of Holy Family Parish in South Buffalo and is the son of the late Mary Teresa (O'Brien) and Robert Bigelow, and is the step-son of Regina M. (Schamann) Bigelow. Father Bigelow is the second oldest child of 10 children. He has four sisters and two brothers residing in Western New York and one brother living in Whittier, Calif. Two sisters are deceased.
He attended the Holy Family grammar school, and graduated from Bishop Timon High School in 1958. Father Bigelow began studies for the priesthood and attended the newly opened St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora. In 1963, he was assigned to theological studies at the Collegium Canisianum in Innsbruck, Austria.
Father Bigelow fondly remembers serving on the team of chaplains for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, and coordinating the visit of His Beatitude, Michel Sabbah, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, on his visit to St. Joseph's University Parish and the University of Buffalo. Over the years, he has served as a member of the Priest' Senate, the board of trustees at Mount Mercy Academy, the board of directors of Baker Home for Boys, and numerous other boards in service to the poor and needy. He was involved with Marriage Encounter, the Cursillo Movement and various church renewal groups. He continues as a member of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, established in 2011 to continue the vision of Vatican Council II, which encourages priests to be a voice of hope and joy within our pilgrim Church.