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Monsignor Paul J. Belzer, 89, whose congregation included family of Timothy McVeigh

Msgr. Paul Belzer

March 31, 1929 – Jan. 30, 2019

Monsignor Paul J. Belzer, longtime pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Pendleton, whose congregation included the family of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, died Jan. 30. He was 89.

Born in Miami, Fla., he attended the Little Seminary of St. Joseph and the Little Flower in Buffalo. As a teen during World War II, he volunteered to serve as scoutmaster of Troop 104 in the Town of Tonawanda and was made an Eagle Scout for his efforts.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University, a master’s degree from Fordham University and a master’s degree from Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure.

He was ordained May 5, 1954, in St. Joseph New Cathedral by Bishop Joseph A. Burke.

After serving as a missionary apostolate at St. Mary’s Church in Little Valley, he became a professor at Diocesan Preparatory Seminary in Buffalo in 1956 and a professor of philosophy at St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora in 1965. In 1968, he returned to Diocesan Prep as a teacher and served as registrar at St. John Vianney.

Monsignor Belzer was assigned as administrator at Good Shepherd Church in January 1974 and was named pastor a month later. He became a Prelate of Honor in 1993 and took on additional duties as episcopal vicar of the Eastern Niagara Vicariate in 1999.

Following the arrest of Timothy McVeigh in 1995, he stepped forward to provide many years of support and counsel to the McVeigh family.

He also encouraged parishioners at Good Shepherd to write a history of the church, which was founded by pioneering Father John Neumann, for its sesquicentennial in 1997. He retired in 2008.

He served with the Wendelville Fire Company for 25 years, was chaplain for the North Amherst Fire Company and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Survivors include a brother, James F.; a sister, Lenore M.; nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4, in St. Amelia’s Catholic Church, 2999 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.

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