Recently, St. Martha Parish in Depew completed a series of renovations in its church in the aftermath of the merger that created it five years ago. It celebrated its formal five-year anniversary in July, the result of the merging of St. Barnabas and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament churches in 2011. In order to keep moving into the future, the church will now have a new look for parishioners and visitors alike.
On Sunday, Nov. 8, Bishop Richard J. Malone will visit St. Martha's for the formal unveiling of the remodeling, in which the bishop will rededicate the sanctuary of the church to mark the occasion. The renovations in the church came about as a way to ensure that the newly formed parish continues to be seen as a new parish, and were suggestions of the members of the parish's transition team.
"When Bishop Kmiec was here in about 2010, the diocese initiated a program called Journey in Faith and Grace, and that is when we had a lot of parish mergers and closures," said Father Bart W. Lipiec, pastor of St. Martha's, last month of the parish's brief history. "At that time, the parish of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament merged with the parish of St. Barnabas. The new parish is here at the site of what was, at that time, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, and we adopted the name St. Martha's."
The two parishes, which include about 2,000 families, collectively chose to adopt the new name, and since then, Father Lipiec said the church has gone through major changes, although the parish continues to maintain one of its old names in its Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School.
Since then, the transition team was created to ensure the two parishes merge seamlessly to create a new identity.
Over the last four years, the team has continued to be tasked with discussing and planning renovations to this end. It, in turn, recommended remodeling the church's interior as a major part of this task.
The mission statement of St. Martha's states, "The St. Martha Parish Community recognizes both friend and stranger as an honored guest. We strive to welcome each person as St. Martha welcomed Jesus. Embracing our Roman Catholicism, we live in faith, hope and charity, guided by the Holy Spirit and sustained by the sacraments." Additionally, members of the faith community strive to "commit ourselves to serve our neighbors and others, and thus strengthen the Church for the next generation."
When asked what the renovations to the inside of the church mean for the larger community as a whole, Father Lipiec said they continue to reflect the fact that it is a renewed community of faith.
"We took the identity of St. Martha, and her trademark has always been hospitality and welcoming. She welcomed the Lord into her home," Father Lipiec commented. "We're trying to fashion our parish in that model, and also at the same time, we look toward the future. We try to anticipate what the demographics are going to be and what changes could be possible, and you want to be welcoming and open to any changes that may come down the road, so we're trying to instill that sense of hospitality and welcome."