The time was the early 1890s. The membership at St. Stan's was over 20,000, and the journey to worship there was a long and difficult walk, passing through the New York Central Rail Terminal and crossing dangerous train tracks, which took many lives. Father Jan Pitass, pastor of St. Stanislaus, decided to divide his parish and form another faith community. The corner of Broadway and Swinbune streets was chosen by Bishop Stephen Ryan as the site for the new Polish-American Parish: St. John Kanty, and in July 1891, the cornerstone was set in place. The first Mass and blessing of the church was in early January 1892, and today, St. John Kanty is preparing to celebrate its 125th anniversary.
The yearlong festivity will start with Mass at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, celebrated by Father Louis Klein, a graduate of St. John Kanty School, and now pastor of Queen of Martyrs Church, Cheektowaga. The Mass will be concelebrated by graduates of the school, along with those priests who have faithfully served St. John Kanty during the past three years without a pastor.
A very special part of this Mass, which takes place on Christ the King Sunday, will be the blessing of a new crown for the Infant of Prague by Father Michael Parker and Deacon James Waggoner, both from St. John the Baptist in Kenmore, who were instrumental in the purchase and transportation of the crown from Rome to Buffalo. The crown was purchased with funds raised from a parish bake sale, as well as a special contribution from the piggy banks of Gabrielle and Marielle Dela Cruz, who wanted to donate some of their own money to replace the former crown, which was in poor condition.
Additional events planned in celebration of the anniversary year include a visit by Ludowa Nuta Polish Canadian Folk Choir of Hamilton at Mass on Dec. 4, and following Mass, the parish's annual Christmas cookie sale. Weekly presentations during Advent will take place on Sundays following Mass. A Polish platter dinner is planned for January, a fish fry for March, and a concert by Ars Nova Musicians Chamber Orchestra in April. An outdoor procession to the Mary Garden, located on the corner of Broadway and Brownell, followed by the crowning of the Blessed Mother, is scheduled for May. June will feature the annual summer festival with a polka Mass by Rare Vintage, and a special Mass will take place on July 16, which is the 250th anniversary of the canonization of St. John Kanty. The traditional Triduum to St. Anne will be in July, and second annual meat raffle will take place at the Matthew Glab Post in August. Another annual tradition has become golf fundraiser at the Broadway Miniature Golf & Driving Range during September. October will see the annual alumni Mass/polka Mass and harvest dinner.
The closing Mass will be the culmination of the anniversary year and will take place on Nov. 19, 2017. Bishop Richard J. Malone will be the main celebrant. Dinner and dancing will follow the Mass at The Millennium with music provided by Rare Vintage. Commemorative coffee mugs and pint glasses with the church logo will be sold at all anniversary events.
For further information go to www.stjohnkantychurchbuffalo.wordpress.com, or call 716-253-1160.