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Letter: It’s so wonderful to see church’s transformation

It’s so wonderful to see church’s transformation

Thanks to The News for its coverage of the 2016 Catholic Charities appeal kick-off at the former Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. As a former pastor from 1989 to 2008, along with many other former clergy and parishioners, I was thrilled to see the wonderful work of transforming the church building into a medical center for refugees while preserving its beautiful architecture. What a gift to the various immigrant groups living there now and what a gift to the wider Buffalo community. Well done, Dennis Walczyk, Sister Mary McCarrick and Ann Brittain!

How great also to read the history of Nativity parish before assuming its new role as a learning and help center for immigrants. As Brittain said, this new role fits right in with Nativity’s history. It is in respect to this that I would like to offer a correction.

Nativity parish was formed in 1898 to serve the many Irish Catholics living in the upper West Side at that time. These Irish families consisted of police officers, politicians and other professionals. The church windows commemorate many of these families. Our Lady of Loreto parish was established on 15th Street, only three blocks away, to serve the Italian families who began to move up from the lower West Side in the ’20s and ’30s. In those days, the various ethnic groups preferred to stay with their own communities.

After World War II, Monsignor James Scanlon became pastor. He welcomed the Italian community since he had studied in Rome and spoke Italian fluently. As pastor for over 20 years, Scanlon re-created Nativity.

As the demographics of Buffalo changed in the ’70s, so did those of Nativity. As the Irish gave way to the Italians, who gave way to Hispanics, and now to Asians and Africans, the parish faced tumultuous changes.

As Brittain pointed out, Nativity has remained true to its origins, serving the new community it finds itself in. May Catholic Charities’ mission at Nativity long prosper.

The Rev. Angelo M. Chimera

All Saints Catholic Church