HUMPHREY — Bright sunshine greeted the Most Rev. Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, during his visit to St. Pacificus Oratory in Humphrey Sunday to bless and dedicate new windows in the small country house of worship.
Spiritual home to eight generations of local Catholics, St. Pacificus was in great need of new windows. Father Ronald Mierzwa, pastor of Holy Name of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Ellicottville, which includes the St. Pacificus Oratory, said, “They were old and cracked; some didn't open and had dry rot.”
He recalled that windows from St. Monica's Church in the Old First Ward in Buffalo were still in existence and nearly a “perfect match” for the church in Humphrey. St. Monica's closed 20 years ago and the windows were salvaged and placed in storage at the diocesan chancery.
Asking how they felt about the window replacement, attendees of St. Pacificus Oratory responded enthusiastically. In order to help defray the cost of window installation, groups from the St. Pacificus community donated funds and made the windows as memorials to deceased loved ones. Plaques are seen on the window frames designating the memorials.
The bishop began his homily wishing all mothers and those who have assumed the role of mother a happy Mother's Day, recalling how after his own mother passed away, his aunt stepped in to give guidance. His aunt told his siblings to “be good to each other and take care of each other.”
Malone said that the rainbows of the stained glass windows are dedicated to the glory of God and hoped that the people will be the lights to shine to all.
St. Pacificus Church was the first of many mission churches founded by the Franciscan Friars and, according to Mierzwa, the only church in North America to be dedicated to St. Pacificus, the patron saint of those with chronic pain.
The Franciscans assumed responsibility for the church of 170 members in 1893. An extensive renovation took place in the 1940s. Several priests were pastor at Pacificus over the years and more recently, in 1989, Father J. Gregory Brennan assumed the role until his tragic drowning death in August of 2007, after which the church was reduced to an oratory under the pastoral care of Mierzwa.
Although weekly Masses were suspended, several are offered during the year and the church is available for baptisms, weddings and funerals as requested. The statue of St. Pacificus was commissioned in 2013 and installed in the church.