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Bishop Fisher Youth

Altar servers recognized for their dedication and dependability


The dedication of so many who help bring people to the Lord during Mass was recognized at the 52nd annual presentation of Altar Server Awards.

Chanelle Ndayishimiye (SS. Columba-Brigid, Buffalo), Joseph Fagan (St. Mark, Kendall) and Emily Bustki (Holy Family, Niagara Falls) lead the procession into St. Joseph Cathedral at the start of the Altar Server Mass on July 9. (Photo courtesy of SS. Columba-Brigid Parish)

The July 9 ceremony at St. Joseph Cathedral saw 65 altar servers receive medals from Bishop Michael W. Fisher. The awardees are nominated from their parish.

Bishop Fisher commented on the number of priests who attended the Mass to help honor their loyal assistants.

“I almost thought we were at an ordination again,” the bishop said.

Father David Baker, director of the Vocations Office which sponsored the event, delivered a homily from the “Galactic Senate,” as he once described the ceremony as a scene from Star Wars with one representative from each planet in ceremonial robes gathering for a noble purpose.

“Isn’t this a noble purpose that we gather for?” he asked the congregation. “Not just today, but every time you step up to the altar, you put on your ceremonial robe and step into that noble role as an altar server. You help us give the Mass the honor it deserves.”

Honored for their reverence and dependability, the servers have built up a habit in their lives of saying “Yes” to Jesus.

VocationMinistry.com reports that three-quarters of new priests once had the role of altar server in their home parishes. A parish can create an atmosphere of reverence and duty at Mass that reinforces in young people the joy of serving the Lord.

Bishop Fisher blessed the medals. Then he placed them around the necks of the recipients while thanking them for their service.

Altar serving is not just a role for young people. Two adults, including 91-year-old Thomas Friedman from Our Lady of Peace in Clarence, were honored at the ceremony.

Friedman began serving at Buffalo’s Blessed Trinity Parish back in 1941 under Father Albert Rung. “He helped me with my Latin,” Friedman recalled.

He continued serving when his family moved to St. Vincent Parish, then on Main Street in Buffalo, and in every parish he attended, including the USS Midway, while serving in the Navy in the 1950s.

After leaving the Navy and getting married, Friedman moved to St. Christopher’s in Tonawanda, where he served under Msgr. William Solleder, the former roommate of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Twenty years later, he and his family moved to Clarence.

“When we moved to Our Lady of Peace, I used to go to Mass every morning. They needed a server, so I said, ‘I’ll do it.’ And I’ve been serving there ever since. … Broke in several pastors.”   

Why does stay involved? “The Mass is the perfect prayer,” he said.

He also has served as a trustee at Our Lady of Peace, as chairman of parish council, and head of Catholic Charities division. He takes Communion to shut ins, and belongs to the Knight of Columbus.

“It’s a way of getting closer to God and doing what He asks us to do, and I enjoy serving,” he said of his service to his community.

How do you feel about receiving the award?

“Oh, it feels great. I was unaware that there was an Altar Server Award until this year. Father Walt (Szczesny, pastor) told me there was and asked if I would accept it for the parish and I said I would be happy to.”

Altar Server Award Recipients – 2022:

Amelia Beck – St. Pius X, Getzville

Matthew Betz – St. Mary of the Assumption, Lancaster

Emily Butski – Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph, Niagara Falls

Isabella Carlino – St. Gabriel, Elma

Matthew Compton – St. Maximilian Kolbe, Corfu

John Paul Cygan – Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, Olean

Brody DeVantier – Queen of Martyrs, Cheektowaga

Joseph Fagan – St. Mark, Kendall

Gabrielle Flumerfeldt – St. Teresa of Avila, Akron

Thomas F. Friedman – Our Lady of Peace, Clarence

Sean Garrison – St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara Falls

Caleb Gatas – St. Amelia, Tonawanda

Noah Gatas – St. Amelia, Tonawanda

Damon Gawel – St. John Paul II, Lake View

Gabriella Geiger – Queen of Angels, Lackawanna

Michael Georger – Our Lady of Pompeii, Lancaster

Robert Giuseppetti – St. Jude the Apostle, North Tonawanda

Evan B. Hanzlian – St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Cheektowaga

Kayla Harding – St. Padre Pio, Oakfield

Nathan White (Immaculate Conception, East Aurora), Guadalupe Ramirez (Epiphany of Our Lord, North Collins), and again Chanelle Ndayishimiye (SS. Columba-Brigid, Buffalo) display their Altar Server Awarfds presented to them by Bishop Michael W. Fisher. (Photo courtesy of SS. Columba-Brigid Parish)

Paige Harding – St. Padre Pio, Oakfield

Mya Hayes – St. Mary, Holley

Michael Hershenov – St. John the Baptist, Kenmore

Samuel Hersom – St. Brigid, Bergen

Isabella Hoertz – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Williamsville

Elias J. Horn – Corpus Christi, Buffalo

Jonah Kawado – Nativity of Our Lord, Orchard    Park

Jonathan Kennedy – St. Francis of Assisi, Athol Springs

Matthew Kennedy –  St. Francis of Assisi, Athol Springs

Thomas Kirchman – St. Christopher, Tonawanda

Joshua Kirsch – St. John Neumann, Strykersville

Patrick Klump – St. Michael, Warsaw

Nathaniel Lindstrom – Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Lackawanna

Messina Maul – St. Mary, Arcade

Samuel Mitchell – Blessed Sacrament, Town of Tonawanda

Madison Nagel – St. Teresa of Calcutta, Depew

Chanelle Ndayishimiye – SS. Columba-Brigid, Buffalo

Luke Nowak – Queen of Heaven, West Seneca

Anina Pabros – Our Lady of Mercy, LeRoy

Christopher Pappal – St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara Falls

Maria Pawelczak – St. Stephen, Grand Island

Thomas J. Pesarchick – St. Gregory the Great, Williamsville

Sam Pietro – Holy Trinity, Dunkirk

Thomas Pivarunas – Church of the Annunciation, Elma

Mary Quinn – St. Mary, Swormville

Guadalupe Ramirez – Epiphany of Our Lord, North Collins

Joshua Riccio – St. John Vianney, Orchard Park

Michael Richards – St. Mary of the Cataract, Niagara Falls

Gabriel Schrader – St. Anthony, Fredonia

Walter Sedlmayer, St. Joseph, Fredonia

Ava Shanks – St. Peter, Lewiston

Ivan Smith – Immaculate Conception, Ransomville

Francine Stringham – Mary Immaculate, East Bethany

Simon Stringham – Mary Immaculate, East Bethany

Johnathan Touma – St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls

Derek Universal – SS. Peter & Paul, Williamsville

Benjamin VanderLinden – St. Brendan on the Lake, Newfane

Elizabeth Wagner – St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls

Andrew Walker – St. Aloysius, Springville

Kathryn Weber – Church of the Annunciation, Elma

Matthew Wenke – St. John the Evangelist, Olean

Emma Wheeler – All Saints, Lockport

Nathan White – Immaculate Conception, East Aurora

Allison Michelle Wierzba – Immaculate Conception, Eden

Joseph Zielinski – St. John Neumann, Strykersville

Alyson Zurek – St. Mary of the Lake, Hamburg


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