SACRED HEART CHURCH
BUFFALO, NEW YORK

Previous to 1875, the German Catholics of South Buffalo were obliged to walk a long distance on Sunday to hear the Gospel in their native tongue.  The nearest German churches were St. Ann's and St. Mary's, and these, in some cases, were two or three miles distant from the German Catholic residents of South Buffalo.  There were many German Catholic families in what was called the "Hydraulics," and Father Baerwalter, S. J., rented a building on Seneca Street, in which he held services for the German Catholics of that district.

The Rev. C. Wagner was sent in May, 1875, to organize a new parish of the Sacred Heart; and he immediately fitted up the rented building and celebrated the first Mass there on Sunday, May 30th, and the following day school was opened also in the same building.  The number of German Catholics attending the services encouraged the pastor and the prominent men of the new parish to take steps towards securing property, on which they could erect a suitable church.  Father Wagner called a meeting of the gentlemen of the parish, after Mass on June 20, 1875.  At this meeting trustees were appointed for the parish and the building committee selected, with authority to secure land suitable for a parish property.  The committee selected a site on Seneca Street, with a frontage on Seneca Street, and a frontage also on Swan Street.  They also purchased two barns, remodeled them and fitted them up for a church building.  This old building underwent many transformations; and in turn it served the purpose of the church, the school, the convent, parochial residence, and then a club house and library for the parish.

The cornerstone of the brick building was laid in June, 1875.  Father Wagner only remained a few months when he was succeeded by the Rev. T. Voltz, who completed the church structure.  The Rev. M. Gessner succeeded Father Voltz in 1877, and shortly afterwards he erected the brick school building.  Father Gessner remained until September, 1884, when he was succeeded by the Rev. W. Riszewski.  Father Riszewski was in poor health; and it became necessary for him to have an assistant in the person of Rev. G. Weber, who shortly afterwards succeeded him in the pastorate.  Father Weber made a great many improvements in the church buildings during his pastorate, to accommodate the growing numbers of his congregation.  He bought additional property on Seneca Street in 1890, and erected a fine parochial residence adjoining the church.  In 1893 he bought additional ground on Swan Street, enlarged the school building, and added a hall for the use of the parish.  In 1901, he added a tower to the church and decorated the interior, making it a pleasing and commodious church building.

In 1911 the Rev. William Bernet became pastor of the parish.

Business had been encroaching on the church property making the site undesirable as well as inconvenient for many in the parish so Father Bernet decided to accept the offer of the Larkin Co. to purchase the entire property.  Father Bernet bought property on Watson Street and erected a splendid set of buildings for church, school, convent and rectory.

Father Bernet was succeeded in 1923 by Rev. Edward Widman.

Father Widman celebrated in September, 1925, the golden jubilee of the parish.



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Holly Timm
Cheektowaga, New York
erie@nygenweb.com