Newly restored Ascension Parish and new altar blessed by Bishop Fisher
Bishop Michael W. Fisher pours holy oil on the new altar of Ascension Parish. The bishop blessed the altar and restored Batavia parish on Dec. 11.
Nearly 67 years to the day Bishop Joseph Burke came to Batavia to bless Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, the Swan Street building was again blessed by the bishop of Buffalo. This time Bishop Michael W. Fisher visited the church, which serves Ascension Parish, after much renovation and restoration to the building.
The church has an interesting history. Bishop Charles Colton asked that Sacred Heart Parish be organized to serve the Polish and Italian communities on the Southside of Batavia. The first worship site was a house on South Jackson Street. As the parish grew, it moved to a new location on South Swan. World War I and a shortage of building materials made construction a slow process. All that work had been completed was destroyed in a 1942 flood. The current church was built on the same foundation and blessed on Dec, 12, 1954.
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec merged Sacred Heart with nearby St. Anthony’s renaming the parish Ascension 2008.
Father David Glassmire, pastor since 2011, renovated the church inside and out. Visitors will e a new roof, interior paint and new handrails. Along with restoration of the stained-glass windows, a new sanctuary lamp and refurbished crucifix now adorn the small church. Father Glassmire directed the restoration project through the generous giving of his parishioners to the Upon This Rock Campaign sponsored by the Diocese of Buffalo.
At the Dec. 11 Mass of Thanksgiving, Bishop Fisher consecrated the new altar by rubbing oil and spreading incense over it.
“Today, your faith people desire to dedicate to you solely for all time this house of prayer where they worship devoutly, are instructed by the word, and are nourished by the sacraments,“ Bishop Fisher spoke, asking God to bless the church. “This house brings to light the mystery of the Church, which Christ made holy by the shedding of His blood, so that He might present her to Himself as a glorious bride, a virgin resplendent with the integrity of faith, a mother made fruitful by the power of the Spirit.”
“Here may the sick find nursing, the oppressed obtain true freedom, and all people be clothed with the dignity of Your children until they become exalted to the Jerusalem, which is above,” the bishop said in closing.
Whenever a new or newly renovated church is dedicated or an altar is consecrated, the faithful gather to pray with the saints to ask their intercession and for their blessing. St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Maximillian Kolbe and Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska were enshrined in the Ascension reliquary, resting alongside St. Padre Pio, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and St. Maria Goretti. These saints were placed under the altar for public veneration and prayer.
As a show of strength for the church, a violent windstorm struck Western New York the night of the dedication. Unlike the flood of 1942, this storm did not damage the church. “While the deacon was proclaiming the Gospel, I looked over at Father Peter and I think he heard the same thing – a very strong wind passing about. But it did not shake the foundations of this church, because this church is founded upon Jesus Christ as our corner stone,” said Father Glassmire in his homily.