Share this article

print logo

Parishioners of shuttered St. Ann’s will hold annual German Mass at St. Louis Church

St. Ann Church on Broadway remains locked up nearly a year after it was deemed unsafe for parishioners to worship there.

But, as according tradition, the parish’s German roots will be celebrated Sunday – inside another glorious Buffalo church with German heritage.

St. Louis Church on Main Street will be the site of St. Ann’s annual German Mass at 12:30 p.m.

St. Ann parishioners are still anxiously awaiting an engineering study of the ornate 1886 church. The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo hired Arbour Construction Management and Siracuse Engineers to determine what can be done about structural problems in the building.

Those problems, which included out-of-place stones and buttresses that were pulled away in the northwest tower, were discovered during an earlier inspection that prompted former Bishop Edward U. Kmiec last April to suspend all activities at the church.

The engineering report was anticipated late last year, but members of the parish have yet to see it.

“There’s still an awful lot we don’t know,” said Martin Ederer, who is part of a small community of parishioners advocating for the church to stay open. “We’re in limbo.”

Diocesan spokesman Kevin A. Keenan said the report currently is “going through internal review.”

St. Ann Church was supposed to close under a decree issued by Kmiec in 2011. Parishioners appealed the decree to the Vatican, forestalling the closure, because under Catholic canon law a worship site must remain open while an appeal is considered.

Kmiec cited safety reasons last April – just a week after the 2012 German Mass – in ordering a suspension of activities at the church. Kmiec has since retired and been replaced by Bishop Richard J. Malone.

Some members of St. Ann still gather occasionally for Masses in the church convent or school building, depending on the availability of a priest.

Monsignor John W. Zeitler, a retired pastor who speaks German, will be celebrant at Sunday’s German Mass, which also will feature music by the Buffalo Schwaben Chor. St. Ann Parish was founded in 1858 by German immigrants, who built what is now one of the city’s oldest churches. St. Louis, the diocese’s oldest parish, was founded in 1829 and consisted of a large German-Catholic presence for many years.

St. Ann members had mixed feelings about getting together for the traditional Mass in a church other than home space, but ultimately decided to press forward with the tradition.

“It’s a way for us to get together, and we know we have a priest that Sunday, so let’s do it,” said Ederer. “It’s important to pray together.”