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Centennial sparkles with memories

Our Lady of the Rosary has met in several locations, from a storefront in 1906 to the current church on 22nd Street, and Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of a place many generations of families have called their home.

"When I was a kid, when someone asked you where you lived you were identified with what parish you belonged to," said Rev. Duane Klizek, who grew up at Our Lady of the Rosary.

Now the pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Falls, Klizek said he will always consider Rosary his home church.

During the Centennial Celebration Mass, presided by Buffalo Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, Klizek recalled stories and memories of the parish.

"We all remember when the church was filled. What has happened?" he asked about 50 people who attended the service. "Your children are away from home. We've sent them off like missionaries, and we should be proud.

"We taught them what it means to be a Catholic Christian," he added. "Whether they be in Charleston, Florida, San Diego or Las Vegas . . . We should be proud of the children we have sent from here to touch the world, because they have a spirit of love."

Klizek also lightened the mood of the service by reminding the congregation that Rosary was the first church in the Falls to have indoor plumbing.

Marie "Paul" Kobrock attended Sunday's Mass because she wanted to honor the memory of her own upbringing in the church.

"It was just a little church at the top of the school building when I started going there," said Kobrock, who began attending as a child in 1933.
She said that before the proper church building went up next to the school in 1952, it was a struggle just to pay the mortgage.

She credits the late Rev. John J. Collins with helping the church get out of debt, and save money for the new building.

At one point when the church was still holding services in the school building, the parish had increased to 1,000 families. On Sunday, far less than half the pews were filled and the current restructuring by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which will mean the closing of some churches in Niagara Falls, was on the minds of some.

"This has been my home for 60 years," said Jessie Zabkowski, a vicariate and an usher. "I pray this church will never close. I'm so happy that I've lived that long to see the [centennial]."

Kmiec at the end of the service reminded the parishioners that they have been blessed.

"We're diminished in numbers but not in faith," he said. "Family is people growing together in faith. Give thanks to God, for 100 years he did not let the Spirit die here."

e-mail: gfranklin@buffnews.com

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