CHEEKTOWAGA — St. John Gualbert Church and Diocesan Shrine is debuting a Mass series, honoring the saints whose relics are amongst the 1,100 housed in the shrine. The series kicks off at 6:00 p.m., on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at St. John Gualbert in Cheektowaga.
"The relic shrine at St. John Gualbert is a unique way to relate to the saints," said Father Michael H. Burzynski, pastor of the church. These relics range in age from the first century to the 20th century, and most of them are first class, meaning they are physically part of the saint's body or connected directly to Christ's life.
Father Burzynski began collecting these relics when he was a student at Notre Dame University in 1977. Shortly after becoming the pastor at St. John Gualbert in 2011, he donated the collection to the parish, where it is now permanently displayed. In 2016, the collection was officially declared a diocesan shrine by Bishop Richard J. Malone.
The series will start with four Masses, each dedicated to a different saint. "The saints reflect the light of Christ in diverse circumstances. We will begin this series, reflecting how our Lord is manifest in America, beginning with our most local saint, John Neumann."
The Mass on Oct. 24, dedicated to St. John Neumann, is followed by Masses for St. Kateri Tekakwitha Nov. 14, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Dec. 5, and St. Katharine Drexel Jan. 15.
These four Masses are just the beginning of what's to come; there are hundreds of other saints represented in the shrine. In the future, Father Burzynski plans to have a Mass for a new saint every month. This way visitors will have the chance to venerate the relics of other saints they hold dear to them. "We invite everyone to take advantage of this opportunity in our midst," he said.