ST. COLUMBA'S CHURCH
BUFFALO, NEW YORK

Between St. Patrick's parish and the cathedral there was a large Catholic community for several years, which was not definitely attached to either parish.  To provide further accommodation for these people Bishop Ryan decided to form a new parish from portions of each of the above congregations.  He appointed the Rev. P. A. Maloy to the work of organizing the new congregation.  Father Maloy began his work in the new field on Sunday, the 28th of January, 1888, in the temporary chapel which he humorously called the Tabernacle.  This was situated at 354 Seneca Street, in a large brick tenement house, the lower floor of which was converted into a large hall in which services were held on Sundays.  The first trustees for the new parish were Patrick McMullen and James Garrahee.

In the spring of 1856, Father Maloy bought property on South Division Street, near Hickory Street, for $11,000, and he immediately began the construction of a church building on part of this property.  There was a brick residence on the lot, and in this Father Maloy made his home.  As soon as the basement of this building was completed, the old Tabernacle on Seneca Street was abandoned, and services were held in the completed basement of the proposed new building.  The corner-stone of the proposed church was laid on Sunday, October 21, 1888, and the building was blessed on the 16th of December of the same year, by Bishop Ryan.  There was a heavy debt on the new church; and the work of organizing the congregation and building up a new parish was a heavy burden for Father Maloy, who was no longer young, nor physically fit to fulfill the work immediately connected with this arduous undertaking.  He was a very learned man and a gifted orator, and was better fitted for an organized congregation than for the hard work of building up a new parish.  He was succeeded at St. Columba's in 1890, by the Rev. M. P. Connery.

Father Connery said his first Mass in the new parish on Sunday, April 20, 1890.  He saw at once that there was a great field here for a large and prosperous congregation.  He also immediately decided that the beginning of the new church building was not sufficient to accommodate the congregation which might be formed here with sufficient church accommodations.  Shortly after his advent, the Deuther property, at the corner of Eagle and Hickory Streets was placed on the market.  Within one week from the time the "For Sale" sign had been placed on this property, Father Connery had secured it as a site for the new Church of St. Columba.  He afterwards secured the adjoining lots, which gave him ample room for a convent and school.  He immediately had plans drawn up for a new church building, and the corner-stone was laid on the 28th of June, 1891, by the Right Rev. Monsignor William Gleason.  A great crowd assembled on this occasion to assist in the services and listen to the eloquent discourse by the Rev. Dr. Quigley, afterwards.  Archbishop of Chicago.  Work was pushed rapidly on the new building, and it was dedicated on Sunday, the 22nd of February, 1892, by Bishop Ryan.  The Rev. R. Barry, of Boston, preached on this occasion.  On this occasion Bishop Ryan spoke of the necessity of a parochial school for the parish; and he reiterated this statement at the meeting of the trustees of the church, which was held in the parish residence that afternoon.  A new school site was purchased from Mr. Charles Brunn, and the adjoining lot was secured from Mr. James Lawless.  Immediately after securing the property, work was begun on the new school building.  The ground was broken on the 18th of May, 1897, and the corner-stone was laid on the 9th of the following June, which was the patronal feast day of the parish.  A handsome school building was erected, and it was fitted with every convenience required in an up-to-date school building.  There is a large hall in the building which serves for entertainments, and there is also a smaller one which is used by the societies of the parish.  The building completed cost in the neighborhood of $50,000.

Father Connery sold the property on South Division Street, and he erected a parish residence adjoining his church on Eagle Street.  This building he converted into a convent for the Sisters of Mercy who presided over the parochial school.  He secured the property on North Division Street, corner of Hickory Street, and on this lot was erected a fine, large parochial residence of the Norman Gothic style, at a cost of about $16,000.  All these buildings, which make up the parochial property of St. Columba's parish, were built by Father Connery during the fourteen years of his pastorate over the parish.  He displayed good judgment and fine financial ability, and his management of the temporal affairs of the parish and his amiable qualities and priestly character drew around him a faithful and generous people who willingly aided him in all his undertakings.  It was then one of the most prominent and prosperous parishes of the Diocese of Buffalo.

The Kindergarten and the Angel Guardian Mission were also under the direction of the rector of St. Columba's.  They were managed by an association of ladies known as the Angel Guardian Mission Association.  The late Mrs. Mark Packard was at the head of this association, which did a very good and charitable work in providing he primary education, also shoes and clothing, for any poor children of a large district in the vicinity of Seneca, Chicago and Louisiana Streets.

Monsignor Connery died in 1912, and the Rev. Michael Noonan became pastor of St. Columba's.  Father Noonan guided the affairs of the parish for the next ten years when the Rev. Charles Maxwell, D. D., became pastor.  The congregation of Saint Columba's had been dwindling for some years, and in July, 1928, the parish was merged with Saint Lucy's under the pastorate of Dr. Boland.



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Holly Timm
Cheektowaga, New York
erie@nygenweb.com