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Buffalo, New York – At 8:14a.m. on Sunday, December 28th, parishioners at Corpus Christi were waiting for Mass to begin. Without warning, the church chandeliers began to sway and the organ pipes in the choir loft started to rattle, immediately followed by a deafening sound unlike anything the congregation had ever heard. Panicked worshipers feared a tornado or an earthquake. As it turned out, the din was the sound of hundreds of slate tiles being torn from the church roof in wind gusts that topped 75 mph. The ordeal lasted less than a minute. Miraculously no one was injured. The aftermath, however, leaves the congregation facing a serious challenge in these tough economic times. Elsewhere, the wind toppled trees, snapped power lines and left thousands across Western New York without power.
The area immediately surrounding the church has since been cleared of all debris. Emergency waterproofing of the roof is being completed by Weaver Roofing Company. However, this is only a temporary solution to cover the damaged sections of the roof. This interim measure will insure that the church interior is protected until work on a complete new roof can hopefully begin this spring.
Even before the storm damage, the parish had identified replacement of the 100-year-old slate roof as its top priority. A generous $450,000 grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund was announced last fall, following the church’s designation as a New York State Landmark and its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the State award requires a dollar-for-dollar match before its funding is released. That means the parish must raise an additional $450,000 for the project to proceed.
To date, the parish has raised more than $200,000 toward that goal. More help is needed to secure the necessary funds for the roof project.
In the last four years, Corpus Christi parish has made considerable improvements to the church complex. Utilizing significant in-kind donations, generous grants from several local foundations and important ongoing financial support from parishioners and supporters, more than 30 projects have been completed in the last four years. These projects include restoration of the Rose Window, renovation of the Convent Chapel, repair of the twin clock towers, installation of new furnaces and extensive landscaping around the church.
In recent years, Corpus Christi has gained a following of people from throughout the region who attend observances such as the Corpus Christi procession and blessing of the baskets at Easter, as well as special concerts and traditional cultural events such as the Polish Harvest Festival.
Despite the roof damage, Fr. Anzelm remains hopeful. “Even in these difficult times, I am amazed with the ongoing support of our congregation and friends in the wider community. We hope that even more people of good will who love the East Side and Corpus Christi will come forward, knowing that our church is a cornerstone for rebuilding the immediate area. We remain committed to the belief that sooner or later, and with the right help from the city and state, the East Side will once again become a successful neighborhood.”
For more information, contact the parish at 716/896-1050.
Please consider a donation… (click for donation card – .pdf)