Church Foundation – The 50’s and 60’s

The following was taken from a sermon given by Father William Bailey, first vicar of St. Patrick’s, on the day of the current Church building dedication on March 24, 1968; and various other documents found in our Parish Photo Albums and Historian notes.

In June 1956, in a conversation with Father Bailey, Bishop Scaife suggested the new mission in Cheektowaga be called St. Timothy’s.  Father Bailey agreed, so imagine his surprise when, while reading the Courier Express on Monday March 18th 1957, he learned that Bishop Scaife had announced in a sermon at The Church of The Good Shepherd on Sunday, March 17th that the new mission was to be called St. Patrick’s.  Was the date of the sermon somehow responsible for the change?  It’s certainly possible.  No one knows for sure, but many believe that it was meant to be.

There were no empty stores or halls in the whole of Cheektowaga in 1957.  Archdeacon Krusen agreed with Father Bailey that to use a bar room for a church may have been necessary in the early days of the West, but such a practice is a suburban community just might raise a few eyebrows!  So a search for an acceptable place was on.  In calling upon a prospective family, the yet-to-be-appointed vicar was asked “Could you use an apartment?” To which he responded “Yes, where?”  “Across the hall”, he was told.  And a church was born!

The first service, held the following Sunday, October 13, 1957 was a joyful Celebration of Holy Eucharist and a Confirmation.  During the offertory and communion service, little Lester Owens, son of the soon to be named treasurer, went to the altar prior to the actual communion service and asked what was going on.  Father Bailey took the time to explain to one of the youngest members of the church exactly was he was doing.  This at once established the informal and free & easy atmosphere that characterizes St. Patrick’s to this day.  Immediately following the first service, Bishop Scaife appointed Francis Dash, Warden; Lester Owens, Treasurer; and John Boyd, Secretary.

During the summer of 1960 the portable/pre-fab/Quonset Hut building (depending upon how you remember it) was moved from St. Bartholomew’s in Tonawanda to the property which the Diocese had purchased for $25,000 on George Urban Blvd.  The actual street number had to be chosen at that time.  The options given were between 1389 and 1403, with the town engineer suggesting 1400.  The church leaders rejected that number as being too confusing, since the property was on the “odd” side of the street, thus 1395 was chosen as being easy to remember and more in line with the rest of the street addresses.

Several of our older members recall when, during the summer months and the doors were open, mice would run through the sanctuary and across the choir member’s feet.  Also, the Sunday school was in the same building, separated by a curtain.  It sure was noisy at times!

In 1963 the “vicarage”, or rectory, was built, to house the clergy and their family.  The rectory is large enough to accommodate a growing family with four bedrooms, 1½ baths, family room, living room, dining room and kitchen.

1967 found the congregation outgrowing the portable building and the decision to build a new church was made.  Architects were called in and an auditorium style worship space and hall was designed which would cost $179,000.  The congregation, realizing that the cost was prohibitive, sent the architect back, literally, “to the drawing board”.  He was asked to come up with something smaller…and just a church this time.  It was decided to use the current church building as an activity center once the new church was completed.  The cornerstone for the new building was laid on June 25, 1967 and the first service was held on January 28, 1968.

There were several obstacles to completing the new church building.  One was when the pews which had been donated to St. Patrick’s burned in the warehouse they were being stored in.  St. Bartholomew’s was gracious enough to offer us the pews they were in the process of replacing.  We sit in those same pews to this day.

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