Corpus Christi RC Church - Table of Contents

Corpus Christi RC Church - History
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Corpus Christi Official Website
Visitors: Church is open weekdays. Call 716-896-1050 for hours.



Erected:

1907-1909 at a cost of $200,000.00.
Restored 1970

Architects:

Karl G. Schmill and Gould

  • Schmill and Gould designed Church of the Assumption.
  • Schmill & Son designed St Gerard's Church

Style:

Romanesque Revival

Exterior building materials:

Sandstone

All murals, frescos:

Jozef Mazur, a local ecclesiastic artist

Stained glass windows:

Mayer of Munich

Status:

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places


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Fr. Hyacinth Fudzinski, O.F.M. Conv., the founder of Corpus Christi parish

 

First Corpus Christi church

 

Fr. Michael Cieslik, second pastor 1923-1939

 

New York Central Terminal

 

"Rosary Hour," plaque on the church

By the end of the 19th century, the East side of Buffalo was densely populated with Poles. Seeing the tremendous strain on the existing parishes and the growth of the Independent Polish Catholic Church, Bishop Quigley contacted the Franciscan Fathers in Syracuse, a German province, for assistance. The Rev. Jacek Fudzinski came to Buffalo in the spring of 1898 and met with the Bishop about founding still another Roman Catholic parish.

Fr. Fudzinski, with the Bishop's advice, took out loans and purchased 29 lots on Clark Street and Kent Streets. There were ten cottages on this property, and in one of these he established his little monastery. He had a larger frame building, where the present Rectory stands, serve as a parish church. Its seating capacity did not exceed 300 people.

In August 1898 work began on a three-story brick school building facing Clark Street. The first floor housed the parish church which could seat over a thousand people; the parish school was located on the second floor, while the third was used for social gatherings and meetings of parish societies. Classes in the school were taught by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. Within the first year of existence, the new church boasted 650 families with a sizable youth element - and there was a steady stream of immigrants from Poland. With such numbers, a church building large enough to accommodate these growing numbers was a necessity.

In 1907 construction of the present sandstone church was begun and dedicated by Bishop Charles Colton and the Rev Bishop Pawel Rhode, the first Polish bishop in America, on June 13, 1909. Completed at a cost of $100,000, the 90 by 175 foot building seats 1,650 people. The copper domes of the towers are surmounted by crosses into which were stuffed hundreds of letters written by the school children of the parish during the building's construction

To instruct the parish children, Fr Fudzinski brought a newly founded religious order of women to the parish, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, who taught until the school was closed in the 1980s.


Postcard

Renovation and Beautification 1923-1926

Between 1923 and 1926, during the administration of the second pastor of the church, Fr. Michael Cieslik, a number of changes took place in the church:


Renovation and Beautification for the Golden Jubilee in 1948
The fiftieth anniversary fell during Fr. Eustace Bartoszewicz's pastorship.

Further Changes

By the early twentieth Century, this church, like parish churches in all of the immigrant neighborhoods of Buffalo, had become the actual as well as the symbolic focal point of community life. It was also the center of a whole range of secular activities: Needlework clubs; dramatic societies; bowling, baseball, and basketball teams; lodges; and mutual benefit associations all used the church as a meeting place. When it came to the parish church, there was little separation between the sacred and the secular.

During this period of completion of the building's interior, the parish's rate of growth declined, a direct result of the construction of the New York Central Terminal, several blocks away. To clear ample space for it, almost 300 homes were demolished. In 1929 the parish population decreased from 2,000 families to 1,750.

According to the WNY Catholic (Feb. 2005) the Corpus Christi church came under the administration of the Pauline Fathers (2 priests and 2 brothers), on Jan. 1, 2004, through the efforts of Bp. Mansell, who was familiar with the order as the Paulines had taken over a New York City inner city church earlier. Father Anselm Chalupka, OSPPE, is the pastor. 

Very Rev. Hyacinth Fudzinski, O.F.M. Conv.

Father Fudzinski was born in Czarnkow, Poland, January 9, 1855. At baptism he received the names Ignatius-Charles. In 1872, at the age of seventeen, he left his homeland, came to the United States, and settled in Syracuse, NY. Some time later, he sought admission and was accepted into the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual of the Province of Immaculate Conception. In the Order he received the name Hyacinth. After the year of novitiate in Albany, NY, he made his religious vows in 1874, and then was sent to Louvain, Belgium, for his priestly studies. There he was ordained in 1877.

After fifteen years of prolonged stay in Loretto and Rome, Italy, Fr. Hyacinth returned to America. In 1895 he took part for the first time in the Provincial Chapter, and was elected Minister Provincial of the Immaculate Conception Province with headquarters in Syracuse, New York.

Bishop Quigley contacted the Franciscan Fathers in Syracuse, a German province, for assistance. The Rev. Jacek Fudzinski came to Buffalo and met with the Bishop about founding still another Roman Catholic parish.

Besides being pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Fr. Fudzinski organized and founded the Polish Province of St. Anthony of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in America. He was its first Minister Provincial from 1906 to 1920, with headquarters at the Corpus Christi Convent on Clark St.
In his dual role as Pastor of the Parish and the Provincial of St. Anthony's Province, he exercised powerful influence for the good of the parish, diocese, and the Church in America.

Fr. Fudzinski retired as pastor in 1923. Ailing for years, went to Europe in 1925 for a rest and, in Rome, Italy, to take part in the deliberations of the General Chapter of the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual. After the deliberations of the Chapter, he went to Poland to visit his native land. There he died May 14, 1925. His remains were brought to Buffalo where, on June 29, solemn funeral rites were held in the church he built. He lies buried in St. Stanislaus Cemetery among his own Franciscan Friars .

Text sources:


See also:


Special thanks to Corpus Christi Pastor Rev. Karl Kolodziejski, OFM, for his cooperation in 2002
Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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