Anniversary Mass celebrated in Batavia parish
People from Attica, Darien Center, East Bethany, Oakfield and Strykersville filled the small Ascension Church in Batavia for the Genesee-Wyoming Vicariate Mass that marked the Diocese of Buffalo’s 175 anniversary. This was just one in a series of Masses taking place around the eight counties of the diocese in the past year.
The Feb. 19 Mass saw the pastors of 11 area parishes, including one Family of Parishes concelebrating with Bishop Michael W. Fisher.
“This has been a wonderful year, certainly for me to have done these celebrations around the various areas and vicariates of the diocese. It’s exposed me to the beauty of our churches,” Bishop Fisher said as he began his homily.
The bishop said he is impressed by the amount of faith held by the people that built the many beautiful churches in the diocese.
“When we think about these churches, we think about the people who came before us. That’s why we’re celebrating this 175th,” he explained. “We celebrate anniversaries to remember our past and to give thankfulness, gratitude and joy for those. But, also to look to the future. Certainly, part of our future is the Road to Renewal. The Road to Renewal is most important and foremost needs to be about the renewal of all of us as a people of God. We’re always in need of conversion. We’re always in need of embracing that baptismal call to holiness. It’s because of that we have the beautiful places we have for our worship.”
The readings for that day, which came from Leviticus, 1 Corinthians and Matthew, remind Christians of the baptismal call to be holy.
“We carry on the mission of the Church and seek to grow in these traits of holiness needed to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and our baptismal call to holiness. To love as Jesus loves is central to our renewal and the reason for our existence, our diocese and our Church. Part of that mission is to share that message of hope and love in a world that we know has sometimes lost hope. We remember those who have gone before us; those visionaries of love and hope,” the bishop said.
The Road to Renewal initiative, currently taking place in the diocese, addresses the realities of limited resources and declining Mass attendance, but also deals with the renewal of minds and hearts. The bishop explained how Bishop John Timon, Cardinal John Neumann and Venerable Nelson Baker put their faith into action while building the diocese through its 175 years.
“In my travels across the diocese, I implore all of us to come together as we celebrate our legacy of faith here in Western New York. It has to continue. It is our turn. It is our generation now that needs to face the challenges and issues of our day, but also continue the work Jesus calls us to as we seek to be perfect, to be holy in God’s eyes.”
Among the priests concelebrating were former Ascension pastor Father Eugene Slomba, outgoing vicar forane Father Daniel Serbicki, and incoming vicar forane Father Bernard Nowak. The Knights of Columbus and a combined choir were also present.
Mass closed with a prayer for Ukraine followed by a reception.