5/26/2006

WWJD?

Today's Buffalo News - see story - brings more bad news for the City of Buffalo. I've been following the story over the past year in the Annals of Neglect.

Pictured below is the Bishop's residence at 79 Oakland Place and the former Transfiguration Church, that's literally falling down. It's owned by a local attorney, William Trezavant and his mother Pauline Nowak. It has become the symbol for neighborhood activists and preservationists as they seek attention and awareness regarding the pending closing of additional diocesan builings mentioned in today's Buffalo News.
79 Oakland Place Transfiguration Church - Interior
click to enlarge
Seems clear to me. If Bishop Kmiec was seriously interested in Buffalo and the long term viability of the Buffalo Diocese, he would vacate his Oakland Place residence (highest assessed single family home in Buffalo - $960,000) and immediately move into an abandoned rectory on the City's East side. The power of example. Simple.

Meanwhile as the Diocese continues to turn it's back on the City of Buffalo and the magnificant architectural legacy...it offers newly constructed McChurches to non-European members of the Diocese.
Note...if you are interested in seeing first hand wake of destruction left behind on the City's East side last time in the mid 90's when the Buffalo Diocese shut down operations...check out my Tour de Neglect...we'll be visiting three decaying Catholic complexes this summer!
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What does the fact that the parishes are 'non-European' have anything to do with anything?

fix buffalo said...

historically the Catholic Church has surrounded itself with European (white) parishoners on the east side of Buffalo. Here the German and Polish parishoners fled in what some people describe as 'white flight' and are being replaced by non-european parishoners. For example the new McChurch on Northampton St. (behind the abandonded German Roman Catholic Orphan Home, see elsewhere in blog) St. Martin de Porres, is primarily african american. Next, the McChurch under construction - see pics in post - will be home to a hispanic congregation.

What does non-european have to do with anything? you ask. Well, first this represents a historic shift in the center of Catholic power - building of new churches - in the City of Buffalo. Is this happening elsewhere in inner cities...let me know. Second, I'm also attempting to show how a Polish Bishop, Bishop Kmiec, could re-energize his flock and restore some of the forgotten and falling down churches that dot the urban landscape.

From Buffalo? Hope that answeres your question.

David

Anonymous said...

I was born in Buffalo, raised in the suburbs, but now live out of town.

I would tend to suspect the reason why the Diocease is building these McChurches for non-European parishoners is because the churches are cheap to build (certainly cheaper than fixing up some of the most derelict churches) and non-European parishes are the only growing Catholic base in the country -- already over 50% of Catholic teenagers are hispanic (Granted, last time I checked Buffalo doesn't really have a lot of Hispanic people). Here in the urban core of the city I now live in there are probably more Spanish and Portuguese language services than English services.

The church is really just responding to market demand and costs -- the churches have fallen into such a state of disrepair that it is cheaper to build new than refurbish, and stone has become particularly expensive so wood and brick will have to suffice... the Church been McBuilding churches of the same variety out in the suburbs for thirty years now.

Moreso than a 'historic shift', I would characterize what you are witnessing as a 'historic decline' in the power and influence of the Catholic Church. I have no doubt that the Catholic Church would seek to restore such churches to their historical glory if they had the resouces to do so. But they don't, and a lot of this has to do with the fact that these parishes are particularly poor parishes.

Granted, there are huge institutional problems in the Catholic Church (not the least reflected in its declining attendance rates among the rich suburban parishoners that are most likely of European descent). And this is not to say that the Bishop couldn't move out of his house and live a more modest life on the East Side. Should it be held accountable for its disinvestment in the infrastructure that it built a long time ago? Yes. But so should a lot of large companies and financiers who are responsible for around ten miles of Buffalo's rusted out lakeshore.

And I still don't exactly follow how the fact that the new parishes are going to cater to 'non-European' parishes really matters... Are you suggesting racism is to blame, that the Church doesn't want to invest as much money in Hispanic or African-American parishes? Or is this just a function of each parishes wealth? Do you think that if there were equally poor Polish or German parishes in the area the church would be able to restore their delinquint properties? I know that the recent restoration of the downtown church I was baptised at only happened due to fundraising of its parishoners.