Sat, Apr eighth 2023 07:00 am
By Michael J. Billoni
Senior Contributing Author
The Knights of Columbus Mary Star of the Sea Council No. 4752 will use proceeds from the latest sale of its membership constructing and almost 9 acres of land at 1841 Whitehaven Street to repurpose, preserve and handle the previous St. Stephen’s R.C. “Previous Church” at 2106 Baseline Street, the church and council introduced this week.
Earlier than the Grand Island Catholic Membership Corp. may negotiate a 25-year lease at $1 per 12 months for “The Previous Church,” St. Stephen’s pastor, the Rev. Raymond G. Corbin, needed to request the Diocese of Buffalo to “decommission” it as a home of worship. When the Most Rev. Michael W. Fisher, bishop of Buffalo, issued the required paperwork to St. Stephen’s, plans started to revitalize the constructing into the house of many Island organizations, corresponding to Scouting, the Neighbors Basis, and the Knights of Columbus Mary Star of the Sea Council No. 4752.
The little white church, constructed by 40 males of the parish, was accomplished in 1862, and served because the Island’s Roman Catholic church till development started on the adjoining new church in 1999. Corbin stated the parish funds wanted to carry and preserve the outdated church far outweighed its usefulness for contemporary worship. To save lots of the constructing for the long run, a brand new goal was sought, and the timing coincided with the Knights of Columbus’ must promote its constructing and land. For the Mary Star of the Sea Council, over the previous decade, upkeep prices and property taxes elevated whereas the constructing’s use decreased – principally due to the almost three-year international coronavirus pandemic.
In line with actual property information obtained by the Erie County Clerk’s Workplace, the sale of the Whitehaven Street property closed March 27. The location was acquired by James J. Panepinto, president of Pinto Development Providers, and a companion. Panepinto, a member of the Mary Star of the Sea Council, stated he’s happy to see the funds from the sale go to renovate “The Previous Church” constructing.
“That church has a particular place in my coronary heart, as a result of that’s the place I married my spouse, Lynn,” he stated.
Panepinto additionally stated his dad, George, a life-time Islander who remains to be concerned with the household’s 91-years-young Pinto Development Providers enterprise, was among the many many Islanders who volunteered to assist construct the brand new church.
Corbin stated he’s extraordinarily happy with the top end result: “Our purpose had all the time been to present the construction and recollections ‘The Previous Church’ has amongst folks a future. The constructing will now be given to the neighborhood for its use and pleasure.
“It’s actually a ‘win-win’ state of affairs for each the parish and our Grand Island neighborhood. The constructing is saved, and its exterior will stay as it’s as we speak, honoring the historic nature of ‘The Previous Church.’ The inside will probably be up to date for contemporary use, codes, and handicap accessibility, so it may be used for cultural occasions, productions and gatherings on the Island.”
In line with a launch from the Mary Star of the Sea Council, a gathering of its membership was held final July to elucidate its dire monetary circumstances; focus on the state of affairs; and current the choice of promoting the property, and using the funds to renovate the historic church constructing into a house for the council and different community-based organizations. The membership voted unanimously to promote the property, and voted 37-3 to barter a long-term lease of the constructing with St. Stephen’s.
In alternate for the $1-per-year, 25-year lease for the constructing, the Grand Island Catholic Membership Corp. will preserve, function and renovate the construction for the use and advantage of the neighborhood – with the purpose of making a middle for cultural actions within the City of Grand Island.
The primary part of renovations is within the starting stage and embrace the alternative of the roof, an elevator to make all flooring within the constructing wheelchair accessible, accessible relaxation rooms, and refinishing the bottom flooring of the constructing. These renovations will present a everlasting house for the Neighbors Basis meals pantry, and devoted areas for the Scout troops and Knights of Columbus Mary Star of the Sea Council No. 4752. There may also be a multipurpose room that will probably be utilized by these organizations and others.
Wealthy Historical past of ‘The Previous Church’
St. Stephen’s R.C. parish, the oldest and largest congregation on Grand Island, has a distinguished historical past of ministry to its residents. Earlier than “The Previous Church” was constructed, Mass was celebrated within the house of William Caroll Sr. Saint John Neumann stated Mass for Island Catholics on the outdated sawmill on Whitehaven Street. In 1847, a touring priest, the Rev. James Boyle, stated Mass periodically, whereas additionally visiting Catholic communities in Niagara Falls, Lewiston and Youngstown.
For a few years, Mass was stated in several folks’s properties across the Island. Numbers of parishioners continued to develop and, in 1861, Father Ulhrich, its unique pastor, bought 20 acres of land on the nook of Baseline and Whitehaven roads. Development of the little white church started.
Forty males of the parish gave their labor and lumber with horses and wagons to assist construct the church. “The Previous Church,” as we all know it as we speak, was accomplished in 1862, for a complete value of $673. The primary sermon was preached in English, then translated into French and German. The entire assortment at its first Sunday Mass was $17.
The church was enlarged, as Island inhabitants grew, in 1948. The rectory, college and convent adopted and, because the inhabitants continued to develop, a brand new, bigger church was wanted. Development started in 1999, and the ultimate value was almost $6 million. The brand new church would seat 1,000 folks, a far cry from “The Previous Church,” which sat 125.
Historical past of the Knights of Columbus Mary Star of the Sea Council No. 4752
In 1960, land was bought on Whitehaven Street and, with donations from membership, what is often referred to as The Knights of Columbus Corridor was constructed as a house to the council and quite a few neighborhood and household occasions. At the moment, the Grand Island Catholic Membership Corp. was shaped, and it has owned and operated the ability ever since. Its purpose has all the time been to take care of the ability for the nice of the council and the Grand Island neighborhood.
The necessary shutdowns related to the pandemic, coupled with elevated bills, depleted money reserves. The council’s board of administrators acknowledged the state of affairs had change into unsustainable, and that the sale of the property was inevitable. Nonetheless, in contemplating this inevitability, the board felt it was essential to have a facility the place the Grand Island neighborhood’s not-for revenue organizations, such because the Knights, the Neighbors Basis and Scout troops, may use it to hold on their works.
The timing of the St. Stephen’s choice final 12 months to do one thing with “The Previous Church” proved to be good timing for each organizations.
Frank Burkhart, a member of the Knights of Columbus board of administrators, stated, “Whereas we now have budgeted to have professionals do the work to interchange the roof and assemble the elevator, and have budgeted to buy the supplies to do the remainder of the renovations, we’re going to take a web page from our ancestors, who initially constructed ‘The Previous Church’ by counting on the identical sense of volunteerism to supply labor to do the remainder of the renovations.
“We wish to concern an open invitation to any neighborhood member who wish to be a part of revitalizing the constructing to step up and volunteer. If , contact us by emailing [email protected]or by telephone, 716-380-7608.”