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Corpus Christi Parish - Buffalo NY

A brief parish history from the 1944 Golden Jubilee Book

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Buffalo, like any other large city of the United States, became the haven for a multitude of immigrant Poles who fled their mother country in quest of freedom and livelihood. Cognizant of the fact that the small number of Polish priests resident in Buffalo at the time could not minister properly to the spiritual needs of these people, Bishop Quigley appealed to the Franciscan Fathers Minor Conventual of Syracuse, NY for help.

The provincial of this particular branch of Franciscans was Very Rev. Hyacinth Fudzinski, a zealous and most energetic Pole, who at once responded to the Bishop's plea. His Excellency, entrusted the charge of organizing a new Polish Parish to Father Fudzinski, designating the locality south of Broadway, between Curtiss and FillmoreAvenues to be the site for the new parish. With careful planning, Father Fudzinski chose Kent street as the most suitable place for the new church. His administrative ability soon led him to procure the services of a real estate agent, who helped him purchase 10 houses and 29 lots on Clark and Kent Streets for the sum of $37,400.

Upon the successful completion of this transaction, on the 22 day of April, 1898, Bishop Quigley officially decreed the establishment of a new parish under the title of Corpus Christi. The Franciscan Fathers Minor Conventual were placed in charge of it "in perpetuum." To offer the faithful an immediate place of worship, Father Fudzinski had one of the purchased buildings, namely a grocery store, remodeled. On Sunday, May 27, 1898, this little structure was privately blessed and Father Fudzinski celebrated the first Mass. In June of the same year, on the Sunday within the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Quigley performed the ceremony of dedication of the church.

News of the new church spread rapidly among the Poles. Hundreds flocked to do worship in their native tongue, Soon it became evident that the church was too small to accommodate them all. The parish already numbered 650 families or a total of 3,550 souls.

Then the need of a school presented itself with equal pressure. Father Fudzinski was well aware of the importance of linking religion with education. Consequently, in order to satisfy the urgent need of both a church and a school, he proposed to build a combination church and school. In August, 1898, a few homes on Clark Street were demolished and immediate construction began. By November of that year, the three-story brick structure, the present school building, was completed at a cost of $40,465 With this accomplished, the temporary frame church was now abandoned and services were conducted on the first floor of the new building. Classes were held on the second floor while the third floor housed the parish auditorium.

Shortly after, in 1900, in fact, the present rectory was erected. This was followed in 1905 by the construction of the Sisters' convent and finally by the present beautiful church edifice which was built in 1909 at a cost of $200,000. Credit must be given for this marvelous growth of the parish buildings to the self-sacrificing work of Father Fudzinski and to the generous and loyal help of his first parishioners. Best proof of this spirit of cooperation is the fact that as early as 1919, the parish debt had been completely amortized.

Thereafter, Father Fudzinski devoted all his time and energy to the spiritual needs of his people, helping them solve their various problems, organizing new societies, and acting as a prudent counselor in community life. Because of his exceptional administrative ability he was likewise called upon by bishops of various dioceses to help organize new Polish parishes or to restore order where it was lacking. Added to this were also the duties of Provincial, which office he held for fourteen years.

With the ensuing years, however, it became apparent that Father Fudzinski could no longer carry the heavy burden of pastorship. Therefore, before his death which came May 15. 1925, Father Michael Cieslik, an assistant at Corpus Christi took over the reins of a large well organized parish machinery with enthusiasm and fresh vigor. In 1925, he had the interior of the church renovated, a new organ installed, and the plain glass windows in the church replaced with imported stained-glass windows. All this took well over $120,000, In 1928, when the need of recreational facilities for the parish youth was keenly felt, Father Michael made a considerable loan, and with it he erected the present two club buildings - one for the boys on Sears Street and another for the girls on Clark Street.

This completed, Father Michael gave his attention to other minor improvements, particularly in the school, and worked untiringly raising funds to meet the annual payments of the debt incurred by the parish in 1928, After 16 fruitful years of pastorship at Corpus Christi, Father Michael was transferred in 1939 to South Boston, MA where he took charge of Our Lady of Czestochowa parish.

Succeeding Father Michael as pastor here was Rev. Emil Majchrzak, who prior to this appointment was an assistant in this parish for five years Father Emil continued the work of his predecessor, seeking first to liquidate the parish debt, and then to make necessary repairs and improvements in the rectory, the school, and the Sisters' convent. He also enlarged the bowling alleys in the Boys' Club, established a school library in the school building. For the benefit of the sick and the infirm, he had the perpetual novena to St. Anthony broadcast over the radio each Tuesday from the sanctuary of the church. He organized the Mothers Club whose purpose it still is to assist in the various parish activities and functions.

In 1945, however, by the will of his superiors, Father Emil was transferred to the pastorship of St. Stephen's parish in Shamokin, PA. The office of pastorship at Corpus Christi devolved on the Very Rev. Eustace Bartoszewicz, which he administers capably and efficiently up to the present.

It is during his time that the parish has experienced the greatest material progress since its establishment, In preparation for the forthcoming golden jubilee of the parish, at the very outset of his administration, Father Bartoszewicz outlined a plan for an enormous improvement program which was largely realized just a few days before the golden festivities took place.

The interior of the church was artistically redecorated, the lighting system improved, the floor covered with inlaid rubber tile, the lower portion of the vestibule walls covered with pink marble, the sanctuary enlarged, and a new marble pulpit, marble communion railings with marble steps and floor reaching to the side altars give the church an appearance of unexcelled beauty. The basement at the church was also completely remodeled into several useful rooms, the main attraction being the new chapel with three altars and a seating capacity of 300.

In addition to this, the exterior of the rectory and school was redecorated; the fourth floor of the rectory was remodeled into ten additional rooms; the classroom floors of the school were covered with asphalt tile and the parish auditorium renovated. Finally, just two weeks prior to the jubilee, two new bells and six luminous electric clocks were installed in the twin towers of the church.

This tremendous piece of work required a large sum of money, in fact $125,000, but, as in the past, so now, too, the generosity of Corpus Christi people is unbounded, Every expense was immediately paid for and there is sufficient money in the treasury to meet the payments for the vast amount of work yet to be done. Father Bartoszewicz intends to continue the work of improvement, as the school and the Sisters' convent are in dire need of repairs. In fact, this work has already been undertaken.

But it is not only the material progress of Corpus Christi which is so important today. Equally significant are the spiritual activities recorded in the parish books. During this half century 16,410 infants have been baptized; a total of 4,656 couples have been united through the Sacrament of Matrimony; 6,009 parishioners have received a Catholic burial; 17 Confirmation classes have been prepared with a total of 6,625 receiving the Sacrament. Added to this are the countless confessions heard and approximately 75,000 communions distributed annually. The final gem in the spiritual crown of the parish are the 148 young men and women of the parish who have sacrificed their lives to serve Christ, Corpus Christi has given 66 boys to the priesthood and to the religious life and 82 girls to the sisterhood.

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Last Updated on October 19, 2011