Buffalo, New York – A dramatic phase of Corpus Christi’s restoration is set for July 21. That’s when Morris Masonry, contractor for the project, will begin work on the church’s spectacular Rose Window, high above the choir loft. Weather permitting, the job is expected to take three weeks to complete.
The Rose Window is an exquisite stained glass depiction of St. Cecelia, patroness of church musicians, and the Coronation of the Blessed Mother. It is one of the largest Rose Windows in the Buffalo Diocese and may be the only one set in stone rather than the more commonly used wood framing.
The representation of the Holy Spirit in the center of the window is an exact duplicate of the one that sits above the throne of St. Peter in the Vatican Basilica. It is beyond question one of the most beautiful stained glass windows in Western New York.
In November 2007, Corpus Christi Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its magnificent art, awe-inspiring architecture and captivating history. The Rose Window is one of several signature designs that earned the church its acclaimed landmark status. That window has been a cause for growing concern since 2004, when cracks first began to appear in the stonework. However, the parish was already in the midst of an ambitious five year, $1 million Preservation Fund Campaign for critical restoration of the church’s slate roof and twin clock/bell towers, deteriorated masonry and flooring, and aging electrical system.
It was initially hoped that work on the Rose Window could wait until the church’s first phase of restoration was completed. Unexpectedly, severe weather this past winter accelerated the deterioration and weakened the structural support of the stained glass panes. Immediate restoration was needed to prevent irreplaceable damage to the window itself. The Pauline Order, which saved Corpus Christi from imminent closing in 2004 in a dramatic “eleventh hour” purchase of the church complex, has demonstrated their long-term commitment to the parish community with a special donation to the parish of $45,000 for this project. The Rupp Foundation granted an additional $15,600 to preserve the magnificent window, while parishioners and supporters contributed the remaining funds necessary for the repairs, which will cost nearly $70,000.
It should be noted that Corpus Christi Church complex is in the unique position of being owned by the Pauline Order, rather than the Buffalo Diocese. As such, the parish is exempt from the current Diocesan restructuring known as the “Journey of Faith and Grace” that has closed more than 70 churches in Western New York.
It is not unusual for preservation initiatives to encounter unexpected challenges and expenses. While the parish was able to successfully rally the necessary resources to protect the Rose Window, it is still faced with the daunting task of raising $450,000 toward the matching grant it received last year from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund to restore the church’s leaking roof and weather beaten towers. To date, the parish has garnered $165,000 from individual contributions toward the match. It has received a generous grant of $45,000 from the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program and $10,000 from the City of Buffalo toward this goal. An additional $230,000 is still needed for these important repairs. Now that the parish has been awarded landmark designation, it is hoped that local foundations and the wider Western New York community will also support the church’s restoration for its important role in Buffalo’s history. Those wishing to make a donation toward the challenge grant may contact the parish at 716-896-1050.
Corpus Christi Church is located at the intersection of Clark and Kent Streets, better known as “Superman Corner” in a reference to the super hero’s alter ego. It is a fitting description for the amazing transformation that has taken place in the parish since 2004, when the Pauline Priests and Brothers purchased the parish complex from the Conventual Franciscan Order that saved the church from closing. Since then, the parish has experienced a remarkable rebirth that can be seen in attendance for cherished religious traditions such as the blessing of Easter baskets on Holy Saturday, May Crowning and the outdoor street procession that marks Corpus Christi Sunday. Parishioners and supporters from the larger Western New York community have made extensive improvements to the exterior grounds of the church buildings. Volunteers have also completed interior improvements to the ancillary church structures. All of these projects have helped to stabilize and advance the immediate vicinity.
Corpus Christi welcomes new parishioners and is open daily for prayer and visitation. Groups may arrange a tour of the historic church by calling Bill Koch at 716-773-5977 or the rectory at 716-896-1050 .