Original Church Bell on Permanent Display

The church bell which hung in the former church and school
building from 1909 until 2018 is now permanently
displayed on Leroy Avenue.
Photo credit: Margaret Dick

Welcome Home St. Helena ~ The first building constructed by Blessed Trinity parish was a combination church/school building completed in 1907 at 307 Leroy Avenue. Two years later, a bell manufactured by the McShane Bell Company in Baltimore, Maryland was installed in its steeple. It was customary for a church bell to be given a saint’s name, and Blessed Trinity’s bell – a gift of parishioner Helena Eckard — was named “St. Helena” after her patron saint. The 2017 sale of the former church/school building (visible on the right side of this photo) necessitated removal of the bell. This challenging task took place in October 2018 with the help of the building’s new owner, John Cozzarelli. Repair and restoration of the bell was entrusted to the Verdin Bell Company at its Cincinnati, Ohio facility, and on August 27, 2019 the refurbished bell was installed on a newly-built concrete pedestal located on the church lawn. The parish is grateful to alumni of Blessed Trinity School and two benefactors whose contributions preserved this important part of parish history, and to Mr. Cozzarelli who provided equipment and workers each time the 1,200 pound bell was moved. Decorative work on the pedestal having now been completed, the century-old bell is fully restored and ready to peal once more. Hidden from public view for 110 years, “St. Helena” is now a new Leroy Avenue destination, available for all to see. Please stop for a visit and photo-op.

2019 Alumni Mass and Reunion Set for October 6

Docent Tom Brodfuehrer, ’75, describes unique Harvard bricks during church tour preceding annual alumni Mass.

Alumni Mass – Our Annual Alumni Mass will be held at Blessed Trinity Church on Sunday, October 6, 2018 at 10:00 AM. We look forward to welcoming all Alumni, especially the Fiftieth Anniversary Class of 1969. A reception in St Charles Hall following the Mass provides an ideal opportunity to view or display school photos and memorabilia, reminisce and renew old acquaintances. (As in past years, we ask those who are able to bring a food item to share at the reception). Additional details about the day’s events and any individual class reunions will be posted here as they become available.

As part of our Annual Mass we pause to remember all deceased alumni and faculty. The names of graduates who have passed away since last year’s Mass will be read. We will be remembering Charles A. Ferella, ’68; Michael J. Demma, ’66; Martha E. Collier Wagner, ’63; Robert V. “Bob” Pritchard, ’61; Sr. Jean Marie Klaus (Sr. Mary Andrew), ’58; Sheila Gillogly, ’57; William F. Pernick, Jr., ’57; Donald R. Moreno, ’52; Daniel O’Connor, ’51; Madeline G. LaPenna, ’50; Lois Knapp Gillen, ’49; and Glenn H. Grundtisch, ’41. Please inform the Committee if you are aware of other recent alumni or faculty deaths so that they may be included as well.

Keeping in Touch – The Alumni Committee continues to provide a time and place for you to renew acquaintances, but we can’t guarantee that the people you want to see the most will be there. That’s where you come in. Bobbe Lukasik, who maintains our database, will be happy to provide whatever information she has for your former classmates and friends so that you can reach out and make that reunion happen.

BTS Social media presence ~ In addition to the “School Alumni” pages of this web site, the Alumni maintains a “Blessed Trinity School Alumni” Facebook page. We encourage you to “like” us on Facebook and share your memories or class photos. You’d be amazed at how many comments one class photo can generate. The BT Web Diva, Margaret Stiffler Dick (’59), will happily assist you in adding photos or information to the Facebook page or web site. You can reach her at mnbdick [at] roadrunner [dot] com or 716-832-2540. 

Every year we lose touch with some of our base because of changes in contact information. Please don’t become a missing person when our 2019 newsletter is mailed in early September. If you have moved, changed your email address or abandoned your land line telephone, please notify Bobbe Lukasik of your new contact information. You can also use the contact feature below to update your information; just remember to specify “alumni” as the subject.

We hope you will plan to join us on Sunday, October 6, 2019.  If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch with Bud Dick, 716-832-2540, mnbdick [at] roadrunner [dot] com or Bobbe (Schmelzer) Lukasik, 716-684-5365, bertababe2 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Bell Restoration Project Begins

1909 church bell removed from the former church and school building on Oct 4, 2018

On Thursday, October 4, 2018, Blessed Trinity’s 109-year-old church bell was removed from the bell tower of the former church and school building at 307 Leroy. She is now en route to the Verdin Bell Company’s facility in Cincinnati, OH where restoration work will take place. In the removal process, we discovered two errors in the parish’s recorded history of the bell. Engraving on the back side of the bell, not previously visible, revealed that the bell was donated by Helena Eckert (not Helen Eckard) and was named in honor of St. Helen (sorry, St. Cecelia). We are especially grateful to the building’s new owner, John Cozzarelli, and his employees for their assistance in removing the bell and very appreciative of everyone who has contributed funds for the project. The Blessed Trinity School Alumni solicited donations from their members as a gift to this parish this fall. When the restoration and repair work is completed, we hope to mount and display the bell on the parish grounds. Click HERE to see additional photos.

 

 

Alumni Committee Adopts 2018 Bell Restoration Project

The Alumni Committee has decided to forgo the usual money raffle this year and instead take on a project to help Blessed Trinity.  The recent sale of the old school building has necessitated removal of the church/school bell located in the building’s bell tower.

The combination church/school building opened in 1907, and two years later the 1,200 pound bell manufactured by the McShane Bell Company in Baltimore, Maryland was installed in its bell tower. It was customary for a church bell to be given a saint’s name, and Blessed Trinity’s bell — a gift of parishioner Helen Eckard — is named after St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians.

Your only recollection of the bell may be a nun’s stern warning not to touch the bell rope hanging outside the third floor gym. However, from its installation in 1909 until the dedication of the new church in 1928, it was recognized throughout the neighborhood as a call to pray the Angelus and a summons to Sunday and Holy Day Masses.

The bell has not been rung on a regular basis for almost a century.  If you attended the 2006 reunion Mass, the bell was rung at that time, and it has not tolled since until Trinity Sunday of this year when alumni from the classes of 1958 and 1975 did so in recognition of the 90th anniversary of the dedication of the “new” church. Blessed Trinity is working with the Verdin Bell Company and John Cozzarelli, the new owner of our former school building, to facilitate removal of the bell, probably in early September. The present plan is to have the bell repaired and restored at Verdin’s facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then brought back to Buffalo for placement on the parish grounds. The church will then once again be able to use the bell and preserve an important part of its past.

Obviously this removal and restoration project comes with a cost. The parish is fortunate to have covered a portion of the expense thanks to Mr. Cozzarelli and a fortuitous donation from a couple who happened to attend a Sunday Mass and wanted to help with the project.  The Alumni Committee believes that we could fund the balance of this project as a lasting gift to the parish from its school Alumni.  We are hoping that you will agree.

If you would like to contribute to the bell project, please make your check payable to Blessed Trinity Alumni and specify “bell donation” on the memo line of the check. Checks may be mailed to “Blessed Trinity School Alumni, 317 Leroy Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214. Donors’ names will be displayed in the church and on the church’s web site. (Written acknowledgements will also be provided if required by IRS Regulations).  We hope you will join the members of the Alumni Committee in making this campaign “a bell ringer”!

Recent photo of bell

2018 Alumni Mass and Reunion Set for September 23

Alumni Mass – Our Annual Alumni Mass will be held at Blessed Trinity Church on Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 10:00 AM. We look forward to welcoming all Alumni, especially the Fiftieth Anniversary Class of 1968. A reception in St Charles Hall following the Mass provides an ideal opportunity to view or display school photos and memorabilia, reminisce and renew old acquaintances. As in past years, we ask those who are able to bring a food item to share at the reception.

As part of our Annual Mass we pause to remember all deceased alumni and faculty. The names of graduates who have passed away since last year’s Mass will be read. We will be remembering Patricia Dolan Speyer, ’48; Frederick Godert, Jr.,’72; Robert “Bob” Leins, ’55; John “Jack” Drennen, ’43; Corene Stocker, ’48; Bertha “Betty” Steck Brachmann, ’45; Cornelius A. O’Donnell II, ’36; Shirley Horn Pitts, ’39; Marlene Mauger, ‘67; David Adowski, ’73; Thomas O’Connor, ’60; James “Jim” Castro, 57; Roberta S. Meister, ’67; Lucille O’Connor Ryan, ’55; Patrick J. McPartland, ’59; and Rev. Msgr. Paul R. Juenker, who served as pastor from 1970-74. Please inform the Committee if you are aware of other recent alumni or faculty deaths so that they may be included as well.

The Class of 1968 will kick-off their 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, September 22, with a cocktail reception and dinner at Bobby J’s Italian American Grille, 204 Como Park Blvd. in Cheektowaga. They plan to assemble again on Sunday at the Alumni Mass and reception. Gary Schmelzer and his committee have worked hard to locate their former classmates. If you are one of them and have not yet been contacted, please reach out to Gary at 716-961-8388 or Gizmo1914 [at] roadrunner [dot] com.

Alumni Project – The Alumni Committee has decided to forgo the usual money raffle this year and instead take on a project to help Blessed Trinity. Based on your past participation in our annual fundraiser, we anticipate your generous support of this campaign to restore an important piece of church and school history. The project is explained in a separate post on this page.

Tom Brodfuehrer
interprets iconography on the church facade.

Church Tour – Since 2011, Blessed Trinity has made a concerted effort to promote its Landmark church as a destination site for tourists. A dedicated team of volunteer docents (including several alumni) help visitors appreciate the architectural features and religious symbolism displayed in our Landmark building. There will be a special 30 minute tour for alumni and friends beginning at 9:30 AM on September 23. Please assemble in front of the church. (In the event of inclement weather, wait in the front vestibule).

Keeping in Touch – The Alumni Committee continues to provide a time and place for you to renew acquaintances, but we can’t guarantee that the people you want to see the most will be there. That’s where you come in. Bobbe Lukasik, who maintains our database, will be happy to provide whatever information she has for your former classmates and friends so that you can reach out and make that reunion happen. If 2019 will be a significant anniversary for your class, it’s not too soon to consider how you might want to personalize the occasion. We stand ready to help you get started.

BTS Social media presence ~ In addition to the “School Alumni” pages of this web site, the Alumni maintains a “Blessed Trinity School Alumni” Facebook page. We encourage you to “like” us on Facebook and share your memories or class photos. You’d be amazed at how many comments one class photo can generate. The BT Web Diva, Margaret Stiffler Dick (’59), will happily assist you in adding photos or information to the Facebook page or web site. You can reach her at mnbdick [at] roadrunner [dot] com or 716-832-2540. 

Every year we lose contact with some of our base because this mailing comes back marked: “Moved. Forwarding Expired.” Please don’t become a missing person in 2019. If you move, change your email address or abandon your land line telephone, please notify Bobbe Lukasik of your new contact information. You can also use the contact feature of the church web site to update your information; just remember to specify “alumni” as the subject.

We hope you will plan to join us on Sunday, September 23, 2018.  If you have any questions or comments, call or send them to Bud Dick, 716-832-2540, mnbdick [at] roadrunner [dot] com or Bobbe (Schmelzer) Lukasik, 716-684-5365, bertababe2 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Blessed Trinity Parish Community News

Restoration Project – Last year’s newsletter included a progress report on the church repair and restoration project being partially funded by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (“OPRHP”). With the sale of the former school building completed, the parish was finally able to sign a start-up contract with OPRHP.  Our architectural team from Flynn-Battaglia Architects developed an excellent plan and specifications for replacement of sections of the church roof and front steps. In June and July of this year we conducted a successful bidding process and are now working with Allstate General Contracting, which will oversee all facets of construction. But delay does seem to be the name of the game. We recently learned that fabrication of replacement clay tiles for the church roof will take longer than expected, so it is unlikely that any work will take place before the spring of 2019. Although the parish will eventually be reimbursed for 75% of construction costs by New York State, it must initially pay those expenses. The parish is very appreciative of the help it has received from the school alumni in raising funds for this project. We are also deeply grateful to all the wonderful people who’ve attended our tours, concerts and other events and donated from their hearts and wallets. Such support allows us to continue with the restoration of our beautiful and beloved Landmark building.

The 2018-19 Trinity Concert Series schedule is not yet complete, but we can tell you that The Freudig Singers of WNY will be back for their annual “Christmas Pie” performance on Sunday, December 2 at 3 p.m. This presentation of holiday favorites with its post-concert dessert reception and pie raffle is always a popular event. To receive advance email notification of our concert offerings, send your request and contact information to blessedtrinity [dot] bflo [at] yahoo [dot] com. Visit www.blessedtrinitybuffalo.org and click on “Upcoming Events” on the right side of the home page for updates on the concert series.

Come Home for Christmas – Our Christmas 2018 celebration will begin at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, December 24, with choral preludes sung by the church choir, followed by Christmas Eve Mass at 10 p.m. Mass on Christmas morning will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m.

Highland Park construction, Chalmers & Holden

Highland Park – The Highland Park housing development at the site of the former Central Park Plaza is changing the face of the neighborhood. We invite you to stop by when you are in the vicinity and observe the progress on apartment and towne house construction by LPCiminelli.

Explore Buffalo® has once again chosen to showcase Blessed Trinity with scheduled tours of the church in October, November and December. A non-profit organization, Explore Buffalo® provides tours and other opportunities to discover Buffalo’s great architecture, history, and neighborhoods.

And the Early-Bird Winners are:

The Alumni Committee is happy to announce the winners of the early-bird drawing for raffle returns received by September 8. They are: Marie LeCorte, Msgr. Kevin O’Neill, and Patrick Long. Your checks are in the mail. The big drawing is Sunday, September 24, at the all-class reception following the annual Alumni Memorial Mass. Read all about it HERE.