Longtime parishioner still making his mark on Corpus Christi
Leonard Sikorski has made his mark on Corpus Christi Parish in big and small ways. The 92-year-old has served the Buffalo parish, often leading athletic teams and social groups for over 65 years.
“Lenny is a big help here all the time,” said Chris Cooley, the parish secretary.
Over the years he has been president of the Social Club, Athletic Club, Home School Association, Men’s Club, Holy Name Society and even the Bowling Team. He still ushers on Sunday Masses and, as a trustee, shows up for every parish council meeting.
His latest project has been to paint a collection of statues that rest throughout the rectory.
“Father (Michal Czyzewski, OSPPE, pastor) had the Sacred Heart statue in a hallway here. I asked him, ‘Father, is there any way I can take and redo the statue?’ He said, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’ So, I worked on it at home. He loved it. What he did was he brought me another statue he had of the Blessed Mother. So, I did that. Then he kept on giving me them,” Sikorski explained.
Statues of Mary, St. Michael, St. John and an angel that range from just under a foot tall to about 18 inches now have bright hues and lively faces thanks to Sikorski’s skilled hands. The detail is exquisite. From the broad brushstrokes on the robes to the small wounds on Jesus hands, there is not one drop of paint out of place. He also polished up some larger statues in the parish garden.
“Father was saying that when he looks at the statues they remind him of the statues you would see along the roadside in Poland, where people would put up their own shrines,” said Cooley. “That’s a big reason why he asked Lenny to keep doing statues.”
Although not an artist by trade, Sikorski did spend 43 years doing precision maintenance and repair work on dental equipment. Working for Teledyne Hanau, a dental supply company, he traveled the country so students could bring him articulators for making dentures before they took their board exams. Sikorski would repair their instruments to “put them in A-1 shape” so they could ace their boards. Measurements had to be within 1/3,000 of an inch. That tells you how good his hands are with a brush, even though his previous painting experience had been limited to bedroom walls.
“But I love painting,” he said. “I’m retired, so I have to have something to do. That’s why I started with the garden statues and I went into this.”
Sikorski came to the parish through his late wife, Rita, who had been a lifelong member. All four of their children were educated at the parish school.
“I just love it here. My wife was a member of this church before we got married. We were married for 65 years when she passed away four years ago this month,” he said.
Now, as one of the oldest parishioners and a bit hard of hearing, he gets by with the help of his brother-in-law Henry Bernat, also a trustee.
“I just enjoy being with the parish and doing things for them,” Sikorski said.
“Lenny kind of grounds us here, and tells us why we’re all here at Corpus Christi,” said Cooley.
Leonard Sikorski, a longtime member of Corpus Christi Parish in Buffalo, admired the work he did on a statue of Mary. The 92-year-old repainted several of the parishes statues, bringing a new life to the pieces. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi