Church is not a building, so don’t cry for St. Ann
I am really tired of seeing all the letters about Buffalo’s St. Ann Church’s sad destiny with the “wrecking ball.” A recent one ended with, “Contact the Diocese of Buffalo. You are the church!”
First, I need to explain that I have not lived in one place all my 60 years; I’ve lived in eight, including Ohio, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Second, I became a renewed Christian about 12 years ago within the Protestant faith, after my first 18 years as a member of an active Catholic family. Third, I really like old buildings.
The above means my roots aren’t tied to a place, and that I am very familiar with two-thirds of the three Abrahamic faith traditions, cultures and buildings, and that I enjoy beauty, too.
So, pay attention, those who are weeping for the lovely building of St. Ann. I grieve for the pediatric cardiac ward at Children’s Hospital, and its ICU, because that’s where I last saw my 3-year-old boy in 1990. I grieve for the beauty of the old Palace Theater in Olean, knocked down in 1998.
Understand? We all have holes in our hearts for people and places that no longer live or exist, except in our memories. It is a sad fact of life that Solomon was right when he wrote, “All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
All the letter writers need to get a grip. We hear you, but we can’t re-create the past for you, nor save the present. The church is not a building. It never was. As Christians, we learn, and relearn multiple times daily, that “we” are the church. Believe it.
Mary Eileen Gill