St. Casimir Parish in Buffalo highlighted its 125th anniversary with a special events to help prepare for family celebrations that come with the Thanksgiving holiday season. On Oct. 18, parishioners crowned the Black Madonna, celebrated Mass, prayed the rosary, blessed religious icons and held a luncheon featuring traditional Polish and Italian foods.
The events for the anniversary celebration focused on the importance of families in the Church, and the event included 28 families who pledged to devote their home to the Blessed Mother. Father Michal Czyzewski, pastor of Corpus Christi in Buffalo, who is from Poland, blessed icons of the Black Madonna and gave all of the attendees home dedication certificates promising to honor Mary.
"It was wonderful and extremely well-received by our younger and older families," Father Czeslaw Krysa, rector of St. Casimir, said. "We had a couple of priests concelebrate, and Father Michal received the dedications to the Black Madonna. He is from the shrine in Poland. He's been here for a couple of months."
The crowning of the Black Madonna icon in the church featured a crown Father Krysa fashioned himself out of sheet metal. The design was based on a fleur-de-lis crown that Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, a Polish cardinal who promoted Catholicism in his country during the Cold War, made to commemorate a millennium of Christianity in Poland.
Kelsey Lucas, a student who showed commitment to the "table talk" days held at St. Casimir during the month of August, was chosen to place the crafted crown on top of the icon's head.
"I haven't been using my hands that much, and therefore fashioning something like that for the Blessed Mother was a privilege," Father Krysa said. "She's experienced as both mother and queen in our tradition, the Black Madonna.
The home dedication certificates given to the families accompanied booklets of prayers, verses, hymns, poetry and information on the history of the Church for Polish and Polish-American people given to families. Families also learned about the tradition of "heaven doors."
"It's a place in the home set aside for prayer," Father Krysa said. "There's a national movement in the States to install what people call a 'little oratory,' encouraging families to have a place in their home where they can pray.
"What it basically says is, 'If prayer is important, there is a time and a place.God was born into a family, and He wants to be intimately related to the family and be in the family's life. The other thing it really says is that God wants to be in their home, not just in church."
After the celebration, families enjoyed a luncheon in the social hall.
As part of its anniversary celebration, St. Casimir will also host an autumn polka dinner on Nov. 8 and another event on Dec. 19, that will include caroling, wassailing and other Polish-American activities. Tickets are required.
For more information call the rectory of St. Casimir at 716-824-9589.