Our Mission Statement
As St. Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, we strive to bring others into a deeper relationship with Christ through Sunday Eucharist, Community Outreach, Hospitality, and Catholic Education through lifelong learning and faith formation.
Fifty years ago the Niagara Frontier was a bustling, fastgrowing and vital urban center which attracted over 70,000 individuals to more than 250 defense industries during the Second World War. Many of the newcomers settled in the suburbs between Buffalo and Niagara Falls to be near war production plants in the Tonawandas and Kenmore. The village's population grew so rapidly between 1941 and 1944 that Bishop John A. Duffy directed that St. Andrew's parish be established to serve the northern portion of Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda. Four acres of land, inwhat used to be sparsely populated farmland, was purchased from Erie County. With the wartime construction of the Sheridan Parkside housing project, the existing parishes - St. Paul's, All Saints, and St. John's were unable to accommodate all of the Catholic newcomers.
Rev. James F. Donovan, formerly pastor of St. Anthony's inrural Farnham, was installed on June 17, 1944 as St. Andrew's first pastor. The Bishop gave him four days' notice of the change in appointment. On July 9, 1944 Rev. Donovan welcomed over 400 persons to the first Mass inthe chapel of neighboring Mount St. Mary's Academy, courtesy of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur. With the help of the lay trustees, Augustus McKee and Urban Raiff, the pastor effectively organized the quickly growing parish, although he was without a rectory for several months. A third layman, John Pearson, although not a trustee, supported the parish with such enthusiasm that Rev. Donovan referred to him as his "second assistant".
By the end of 1945, extra Masses were offered at the Sheridan Parks ide Administration Building because the three Mt. St. Mary's Masses were insufficient to meet the needs of over 250 families. Because of the wartime limitations on construction, St. Andrew's was a parish without a church until 1949, when the first church and school building was completed. Rev. Donovan was joined by Rev. Pius A. Benincasa (later Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo) and the Passionist Fathers from Dunkirk in order to serve parishioners's needs. The year Msgr. Donovan celebrated 25 years in the priesthood, Rev. Eugene M. Radon arrived to begin his tenure as assistant pastor. His daily journals and personal notebooks describe the exciting first years of the parish as personnel in the armed services returned home and families were reunited.
In 1949 the first Mass and classes were held in the new church-school. Sr. Mary Venard, SSMN, presided over grades one through four, paving the way for grades five through eight to be added in 1951. The post-war "baby boom" continued to swell the parish's membership, and a second assistant, Rev. Joseph Thang, a priest from the Hanoi diocese of Vietnam, was assigned for weekend duty. During the week, Rev. Thang studied electrical engineering at Canisius in preparation for his return home to aid in the postwarreconstruction of his homeland. Other assistants during the early years of the parish included Rev. Richard Urban, Rev. John Dineen, and Rev. Howard Weil.
By 1953 it was clear that the church-school building, although only four years old, was inadequate. St. Andrew's clearly needed a much larger, permanent church and a separate school building. A temporary church was built for the interim, and the building in which we worship today was erected around that structure in 1960 and dedicated in 1962.
Msgr. Donovan's untimely death the following year, while on retreat, shocked and saddened the parish. Mindful of St. Andrew's requirements, the Bishop appointed Msgr. Joseph E. Schieder to be the second pastor. His strong enthusiasm and clear vision was to shape the ever-growing St. Andrew's into a parish which served the changing needs of parishioners as their families expanded and matured. Prior to his tenure at St. Andrew's, Msgr. Schieder directed the diocesan CCD program and the Youth Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, following inthe footsteps of the late Bishop Duffy.
Under Msgr. Schieder's guidance, St. Andrew's acquired the Msgr. Donovan Center, which contained a double gymnasium and auditorium, and the McNulty Auditorium. The school was transformed into St. Andrew's Country Day School, a chartered private school serving up through grade eight, and containing an International Montessori School, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs, and an extensive, comprehensive extra-curricular program.
St. Andrew's Country Day School pioneered innovations in teaching excellence through the introduction of the Montessori method, closed-circuit classroom television, foreign language classes in the primary grades, a reading clinic, and a physical education program based on the recommendations of the President's Physical Fitness Committee. Prior to the 1960s, the school's faculty was drawn mainly from several religious orders known for skilled teaching: Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, the Felicians, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, and the diocese's own order founded by Bishop Turner, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child. Today, the school relies on trained and dedicated lay teachers.
To meet the needs of adults, Msgr. Schieder breathed new life into existing lay organizations and established new associations. The Altar & Rosary Society (now the Marian Guild) and the now defunct Ushers's Society, a precursor of the Holy Name Society begun by the trustees, were formed in 1944. In 1965 Msgr. Schieder revitalized and renamed the Altar & Rosary Society to create the Marian Guild, a women's organization devoted to the school's welfare. Fund-raising and community enrichment continues to be carried out through activities such as rummage sales, Easter plant sales, fashion shows, and mother-and-daughter breakfasts.
During early 1946, over 70 men attended the first Holy Name Society meeting. Msgr. Donovan relied on the Society to administer financial projects such as lawn fetes, dances, the May Day Rally, Sport Nights, and car raffles. Members printed and folded Sunday bulletins, obtained advertisers, and ran regular paper drives. Together with the Altar & Rosary Society, the Holy Name Society established the annual Christmas bazaar. The present Society was reorganized in 1979 under Msgr. Graeber's direction.
Msgr. Donovan prepared the first group of altar boys to serve Mass and their numbers grew as the parish flourished. In 1952, the servers drew up a constitution and established the St. Dominic Savio Altar Boy Society. Members met on Saturdays for instruction in the Latin liturgy and recreation. When Vatican II changed the language of the Mass from Latin to English, intensive preparation was no longer necessary and the Society was disbanded. The Catholic Youth Council (later called the Catholic Youth Organization or CYO), formed in 1951, provided teenagers with their own organization. The CYO program of recreation, sport teams, drama, and other activities still engages the younger members of our parish.
In 1952 St. Andrew's founded its own Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to serve the poor. Not until the 1980s did the Society permit women to join, and St. Andrew's was the first Conference in our diocese to admit them. The Ladies of Charity had been established in 1964 as the women's organization for service to the community need
Although the 1960s were a time of protest and change, Vietnam and youth movements, St. Andrew's continued to adapt its outreach programs to parish needs. Peace Masses were offered on a weekly basis. The Youth (Folk) Mass came into being, and the religious education program (CCD) was established. A Parish Council was formed in 1966 to meet regularly with the pastor and represent the laity in the St. Andrew's parish family.
Vatican II brought physical, as well as liturgical, transformation to St. Andrew's. Thoughout the summer of 1969, the interior of the church was refurbished. At first, priests and parishioners found themselves challenged by the new liturgy, but by the early 1970s, St. Andrew's was demonstrating its post-Vatican II metamorphosis by participating in ecumenical services with neighboring Protestant churches.
The Holy Year of 1974 brought an Honors program to the school and the commissioning of the first Eucharistic ministers. Two years later, during the Bicentennial, Msgr. Schieder resigned from the parish, and Rev. (Msgr.) Graeber took his place as the third pastor of St. Andrew's parish. With Msgr. Graeber's appointment, the parish's service to laity needs continued to grow with the newly formed Youth Choir and Senior Citizens's group. During the celebration of our nation's founding, St. Andrew's was honored by a concelebrated Mass of the New York State Bishops's Conference.
Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, St. Andrew's parishioners extended their outreach to those inside and outside of the parish. Shortly after the charismatic movement had begun at Duquesne University, St. Andrew's established a prayer community in 1977.
Volunteers worked on the Telephone Assistance Program, a United Way project which served elderly residents in the community. In the interest of social justice, the parish family adopted a Laotian refugee family, found housing for them, and supported their efforts to gain better education and attain appropriate employment.
In 1980, St. Andrew's began offering a special religious education program for children with learning disabilities and those who are physically or mentally challenged. Today, the greatly expanded religious education program is taught by a number of volunteer catechists with the assistance of staff under the Director of Faith Formation.
Since 1987, adult converts have been welcomed to St. Andrew's through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), offering instruction and support by parish members.
As St. Andrew's services increased, city parishes lost their congregations. The exodus of residents from the city to the suburbs had begun in the late 1960s and continued through the next two decades. As a result, St. Andrew's was "twinned" with St. Benedict the Moor, a city parish, in a food pantry project.
Suburban parishes found the composition of the congregation changing in the 1980s, and responded accordingly. Formed as the result of a parish survey, the bereavement program, begun in 1986, eases the burdens for those who grieve by providing support and practical services, such as funeral breakfasts, transportation, and house-sitting. Participants also assist as altar servers during funerals.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the parish family continued to embrace the apostolate of the laity by establishing a Pro-Life Committee and initiating a Hospital Ministry program. During 1988, concerned parishioners responded to the Bishop's mandate by forming the Pro Life Committee to sponsor a weekly Holy Hour, the "Adopt a Baby" campaign, and baby shower for needy mothers-to-be. Parish members also responded to the growing lack of clergy members by taking upon themselves certain pastoral duties. In 1991, a lay Hospital Ministry was organized to visit parishioners in local hospitals and nursing homes. Participants called on patients in Kenmore Mercy, Sisters, De Graff, Buffalo General, Childrens, Roswell Park, and both Millard Fillmore hospital locations.
More to come...