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Bishop Fisher Parish Life

Northern Erie Vicariate has storeroom of faith in its history


The Northern Erie Vicariate has a foundation built on educators, martyrs and saints. The area also has influences from both immigrants and Native Americans. This groundwork has guided the diocese for 175 years. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel, vicar forane for Northern Erie, described these influences in a homily marking the 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Buffalo held at SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Williamsville on July 28.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher thanks Msgr. Robert Zapfel for delivering a homily for the Northern Erie Vicariate Mass honoring the 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Buffalo. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“Anniversaries are a time to look back a little bit, take stock of the present, and hope for the future,” Msgr. Zapfel said.

He called the historical influences in the diocese a storeroom full of the wisdom, generosity and spirituality of those who came before us. 

“Our storeroom is so rich, so full. Our storeroom reflects the heritage of our faith, the holy men and women who struggled with holiness, as we do, and were found victorious,” he said. “Our storeroom is rich. We draw upon that storeroom. What do we seek to learn about a loving God? What do we seek to learn about dedicating ourselves to the welfare of the Church, to building up the Church, to sharing our faith with others?

“We learn from someone like Francis of Assisi that it’s never easy. We learn from the martyrs that it is often a challenge. We learn from the great reformers of the Church that this is not the first time that the Church needed to be reborn, because you and I are not the first sinners who have belonged to the Church.”

Despite this rich storeroom, we are still part of a Church that is struggling and in need of renewal. The Second Vatican Council calls on everyone to be holy people.

“We do that with the example of those who have come before us. We do that with the dedication of those who will come after us. For the Church that we will build in the next couple of years, the Church that we will transition to in the next couple of years will be the heritage that we will leave to future generations,” Msgr. Zapfel said. “We do this with confidence that Jesus is always true to His promise. He promised He would always be with His Church. We do this with the confidence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our words.”

Among those concelebrating the Mass were pastors from other area parishes including Father Matt Nycz, pastor of SS. Peter & Paul, Father Sean Paul Fleming, Father Joseph Gatto, Msgr. Paul Litwin, Father Ronald Sajdak, Father Walter Szczesny, Father Robert Wozniak and Father Bryan Zielenieski.

The choir was composed with members of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Gregory the Great, St. Mary, St. Leo the Great and SS. Peter & Paul Parishes.

Worshipers from many of the Northern Erie parishes gathered at SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Williamsville to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Buffalo. Several pastors from the area concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Michael W. Fisher. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

Bishop Michael W. Fisher thanked Msgr. Zapfel for his homily, reminding people, “This foundation is built on continued conversion, continued renewal, and continued forgiveness.” The Mass welcomed people from the 23 parishes in the Northern Erie Vicariate.

Beverly Tomasi, from SS. Peter & Paul called the Mass, “Glorious.”

“Especially, Father Zapfel’s words. There was just so much glory in them, about what we have in our past history. I think it was just a glorious approach,” she said.

 A light reception followed. The next Vicariate Mass will be held Aug. 11 at St. Philomena Parish in Franklinville in the Southern Cattaraugus Vicariate.


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