Buffalo remembers Father Joe Bayne, fire chaplain and director of Franciscan Center
Father Joseph Bayne, OFM Conv., known to Buffalonians for his work as director of the Franciscan Center, died Friday, June 23 in Chicago.
Father Bayne ministered for three decades in the Diocese of Buffalo as executive director of the Franciscan Center, a home for at-risk and runaway teens. He also served as chaplain for the Erie County Department of Emergency Services. He had been serving as the associate director of formation for the Conventual Franciscan Friars, located in Chicago, at the time of his death.
Bishop Michael W. Fisher has released the following statement on the death of Father Bayne.
“It was with a heavy heart that I learned today of the sudden passing of Father Joseph Bayne, OFM Conv. Father Joe, as he was known, ministered in the Diocese of Buffalo serving as the executive director of the Franciscan Center in South Buffalo that cared for more than 4,000 men in need in its 38 years in service. Father Joe also served as chaplain for the Erie County Department of Emergency Services and the Buffalo Fire Department. He was a true friend and servant to so many in Western New York. He was on scene for the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence and ministered with compassion to the first responders at that tragic event. His most recent assignment was the associate director of Formation for the Franciscan Friars Conventual Postulancy Program in Chicago.
“Our deepest condolences are extended to the Our Lady of the Angels Province of the Conventual Franciscans of which Father Joe was a member. May our Lord greet Father Joe with a warm embrace as he has served so faithfully on his time here on earth.”
Born 1957 in Baltimore, the son of a firefighter and a medical officer secretary for the Baltimore Fire Department, Father Bayne joined the Franciscan Friars Conventual in 1975. He began serving at the Franciscan Center in 1989. As chief chaplain of Erie County Emergency Services and chaplain for the Buffalo Fire Department, he provided support for first responders in times of trouble. He visited Ground Zero five days after the 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, along with 23 ambulances and volunteer crews from Buffalo.
He explained his role in a statement published by the USCCB.
“My role as chaplain for emergency services is a ‘ministry of presence.’ I roamed around Ground Zero in my turnout gear, speaking to the rescue personnel as they came off the smoking burning pile that was holy ground. I shook hands, hugged, gave bottles of water and often prayed quietly with them. I even mustered some smiles and laughter. I met the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, the man who lost over 700 of his staff. I spoke with cops and firefighters. In true St. Francis of Assisi style, I patted and blessed the rescue dogs as they came off the pile after their shift.”
He left Buffalo soon after the Franciscan Center closed in 2018, to serve as the fire department chaplain in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
At this time, funeral arrangements have not been confirmed.