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It’s never too late.
As we all know, many of the Catholics in the Buffalo Diocese are descendants of immigrants from Europe, who came in especially large numbers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Many thousands of Polish immigrants came to the United States to start new lives and new futures. Thousands arrived in Buffalo, and most of them made their homes on the East Side. They made this part of their city their own. They knew that in this part of city, they could almost live as they did in their Polish hometowns. Polish was spoken everywhere. Here the Polish immigrants had Polish family and friends, polish stores, pharmacies, doctors, shoemakers, schools, and of course Polish churches. In Polish parishes, the immigrant families could practice their faith in familiar ways, they could pray in their native language, sing beautiful songs and they received the sacraments. They had a spiritual home that kept them connected them to their cultural soul. Over the years, the area has changed. Most Polish families have moved to neighboring towns or to other parts of America. Sometimes people return to visit their old neighborhood. They experience a flood of memories and emotions.
A few days before Mother’s Day, Teresa Warda visited Corpus Christi Church for some private prayer. Her son, Thomas Warda, had brought Teresa back to “her” church. Her parents, Stanley Niespodzinski and Frances Dorbiela, lived a few blocks from the church. She was baptized at Corpus Christi in 1932 and made her first Holy Communion in 1949. She attended Corpus Christi Elementary School, run by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. She sang in the church choir. In 1950 she was married at Corpus Christi. She and her son lit candles and prayed together, as they admired the interior of the church. When I asked for permission to take their picture, they agreed. Thomas immediately embraced his mother, who is now in a wheelchair. It was the most beautiful son-to-mother hug I ever saw. Looking at them, I thought how beautiful such a gift can be for a mother every day, not just once a year, and what a gift it can be spending time with a loving mother who gave us life.
During these days, let’s thank our mothers for their love and care for us. If we cannot physically embrace our mothers at this time, we can embrace them through prayers as well. It’s never too late. I would like to encourage you to kiss your mother’s tired hands, her care-wrinkled forehead and beautiful heart full of love for you, whether in person or in prayer.