The Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest judicial court, has ruled that Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, was within his rights to issue a decree on Aug. 14, 2013, closing St. Ann Church on Broadway in Buffalo.
For the past four years, the Diocese of Buffalo has been unable to move forward due to an appeal filed by Friends of St. Ann with the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, which decided in favor of keeping the parish open. That ruling was appealed by the diocese to the Apostolic Signatura, which reversed the decision, stating, "The decree of the Bishop of Buffalo of 14 August 2013 retains its original force."
"Now that the Vatican has ruled, the decision to close the church is final," Bishop Malone said. "We will do all that we can, within the confines of safety and feasibility, to remove all sacred and artistically significant artifacts. We hope to save the most significant elements of the Shrine of St. Ann for relocation. We will announce its new home in the diocese in the coming months."
Bishop Malone said the church will now be placed on the market for sale. Potential buyers will need to provide documentation to support their ability to finance the extensive necessary repairs to the church. The Diocese of Buffalo has determined the estimated cost of stabilizing the building is just not a feasible expense within the mission of the Church.
The diocese is aware that the Friends of St. Ann have been raising funds over the years in the hopes of re-opening the church. Organizers of that effort are invited to use those funds to assist with the relocation of the elements of the interior shrine.
St. Ann Parish merged into SS. Columba-Brigid on Sept. 1, 2007, with the intention of using only the SS. Columba-Brigid site. Use of a single worship site was temporarily delayed during which time a weekly Sunday Mass was celebrated at St. Ann's. Due to serious structural issues, all activities at St. Ann's were suspended on April 30, 2012.
The parish opened in 1858 on Buffalo's German East Side. The current church was built in 1886 in the Gothic Revival architecture style. It took eight years to construct.
Any potential purchaser interested in the church building, should contact the Diocese of Buffalo Buildings & Properties Department at (716) 847-8750.