St. Andrew Parish in Sloan has been celebrating a special anniversary this year, with a series of events to commemorate a century since the parish's establishment.
The parish will host the largest of these events with a centennial Mass celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Malone at the church on Sunday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m. After Mass, there will be a 4 p.m. dinner at the Millennium Hotel Restaurant on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga.
In addition to the Mass and dinner, the parish has been having events, such as a miniature golf fundraiser and a memorial Mass for deceased parishioners, with the theme of "Praising the Spirit from Age to Age." On Oct. 17, the parish will make centennial cookbooks, with 300 recipes, available to the public for $10. It also held a series of commemorations of the past, present and future of the parish.
"We've done three evenings of reflection, where I led a group of participants through an evening where we had some Scripture and we talked about it," said Deacon David E. Clabeaux, pastoral administrator of St. Andrew Parish. "We had a video and discussions about our faith. The first one was St. Andrew Church: the first 100 years. The second was St. Andrew Church today. The final one was St. Andrew Church in the future."
Deacon Clabeaux said the Mass for deceased members of St. Andrew's honored everyone who has been part of the parish since its beginning in 1915. In the last 100 years, more than 3,000 people have been buried there. The parish kept all of the books going back to the inaugural year, some of which were written in Polish. All of the names were put in front of the altar for public prayer.
As part of the centennial celebration, the parish is also selling commemorative car magnets, available at the rectory or after all weekend Masses in the church entrance. Paul Ruda, who is co-chairing the centennial celebration with his wife, Judi, said the parish is renewing its directory. In addition to pictures of the parishioners who are participating, it is including a historical section. This is an update of some of the information the parish released for its 50th and 75th anniversary celebrations.
"We're also inviting parishioners to submit remembrances or memory patrons," Ruda said. "For a fee, they get to put in a picture of grandma and grandpa, or whoever, and make that part of the document that's being produced. When we were asked to chair the event, we said we'll do whatever we can to help. There's always such an amazing crew of people who are willing to work together for something like this, so it's more or less keeping things together, and there are people jumping in."
Bishop Charles H. Colton, the fourth bishop of Buffalo who died the same year that St. Andrew's was founded, oversaw the founding of the parish on the recommendation of Father Andrew Garstka, then pastor of St. John Kanty Parish in Buffalo. Father Garstka told Bishop Colton some parishioners were walking great distances to attend Mass at his church and suggested starting a parish in Sloan. The first St. Andrew's Mass took place on Valentine's Day 1915.
"They prayed the very first Mass in space rented from the Protestant congregational church on Halstead Avenue," Deacon Clabeaux said. "That was kind of the first ecumenical, even before Vatican II. It was an example of our parishioners working with members of other denominations, even way back then. That same year, our first pastor, Father Francis Kaluzny, was appointed by Bishop Colton."
By the end of that year, Venerable Nelson Baker laid the cornerstone for the main building, which was used as the church, convent and school. Deacon Clabeaux, pastoral administrator of the parish since January, said he and his wife have been very lucky to be a part of St. Andrew's history. The celebration of the centennial also brings back memories of all of the priests who have come before.
"It's been a great blessing, the chance to celebrate something so big, going back so far, with all of the people here whose lives have been so greatly affected by the goodness of all the clergy, religious and sisters who are involved with this parish," Deacon Clabeaux said. "I get to see them, the people from the past 100 years, through the eyes and hands of all the people I'm working with now at St. Andrew's."
Ruda said Deacon Clabeaux and his wife, Kay, have both been "intimately involved" with celebration preparation from day one, and in a time of flux when the parish does not have a pastor, it has helped pull everyone together. Deacon Clabeaux emphasized over the years, the parish has drawn people to Catholicism and witness the example parishioners have set of cooperation, tolerance and love.
"Even if they weren't Catholic, they see this and say, 'I like that; I want to have some of that myself. How do I become part of that?'" Deacon Clabeaux said. "I think that's the kind of influence that brought people to St. Andrew over the years, and I think it continues today to be that sort of an inspiration to people, to lead them to dig deeper into their faith."
For more information or further questions contact the St. Andrew's rectory office at 716-892-0425.