Annual Alumni Mass and Reception Set for Sept 19, 2021

Blessed Trinity School
1908 – 1975

Katherine Speyer LeClaire, ’59

Alumni Mass – This year’s Annual Alumni Mass will be held at Blessed Trinity Church on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 10:00 AM. Following last year’s COVID cancellation, we are so looking forward to welcoming back alumni from all classes and their families. A reception in St Charles Hall following the Mass provides an ideal opportunity to review your grade school memorabilia, reminisce, and renew old acquaintances. This year’s reception will be a memorial to Katherine (“Kathy”) Speyer LeClaire of the Class of 1959 who died unexpectedly in 2020. A dedicated member of our planning committee since its formation, she supported this annual endeavor with her time, energy, and homemade pastries. You can help pay tribute to Kathy by bringing a food item to share at the reception.

Our Communion of Saints – As part of the Memorial Mass, we pause to remember all deceased alumni and faculty. The names of graduates who have passed since October 2019 will be read. They include: Jean Marien Heubusch, Class of ’39; Richard J. Gibney, James J. Foley, and Phyllis Colucci Nigro, ‘41; Rosemary MacVittie White, Arnold J. Horn, and Richard “Dick” MacVittie, ’43; John J. “Jack” Kennedy, Jr., ’45; Rev. Donald L. Measer, ’46; Leonard J. Higgins and Sr. Dorothy M. Smith, OSF, ’48; Helen Speyer McGrath, ’49; Robert J. O’Connor IV and David E. Fruehauf, ’50; Carol Best Kaun, Maryann Fruehauf Wegner, and Janet Ehlers Simmeth, ’52; Leona Louis Frank and Edward Arthur Mauger, ’55; David H. Balzer, Mary Crehan, Lee J. Vaughan, and James P. Fleming, ’56; MaryAnn McPartland Tole, ’57; Katherine Speyer LeClaire, ’59; Sharon Kazimir Janas and Michael E. Forster, ’60; Sr. Linda Glaeser, ’61; Michael J. Kurzdorfer, ’62; Deborah Besch Patti, ’63; Mary Joan Hriczko Santiago, ’67; Kathleen Szymaszek Michalek, ’69; Susanne M. Gampp, ’73; and former Assistant Pastors Rev. Msgr. William J. Gallagher (1969-71) and Rev. Msgr. Kevin T. O’Neill (1971–75).

Please inform the Committee if you are aware of other recent alumni or faculty deaths so that they may be included as well. Click HERE to view an honor roll of deceased alumni from previous years.

Church TourAlumni members of the church docent team will be available – weather permitting – to explain unique features of the church exterior and interpret various symbols. Please assemble on the rectory (right hand) side of the church at 9:30 AM on September 19 if interested.

50th Anniversaries If you are a member of the Class of 1970 or 1971 and would be interested in processing with class memorabilia at the Offertory, please contact Bud or Mickey Dick at 716-832-2540 or mnbdick [at] roadrunner [dot] com.

Dollars & Sense Your alumni committee can’t qualify as a small business, so there were no COVID-19 relief funds available to us. Nevertheless, we did expend approximately $500 on our August 2020 mailing to almost 600 addresses in the U.S. and Canada and will do so again with this edition. In previous years, these expenses would have been covered by proceeds from money raffles, with the balance donated to Blessed Trinity’s Under This Roof Fund (“the roof fund”). Our treasury is now depleted, and so it only makes sense that we approach each of you to help us replenish it. We are asking that you be as generous as possible, with the understanding that any monies beyond what is required for committee expenses and a small reserve in the bank will be donated to the roof fund. Toensure proper crediting of your contribution, it is important that it be properly identified. If donating online, please choose the “Under This Roof Fund” and enter “Alumni” when the “Write a note” option appears. Checks should be made payable to “Blessed Trinity Alumni” and returned in the envelope addressed to “Blessed Trinity School Alumni” which is enclosed with the hard copy newsletter. This request applies whether you mail your check or drop it in the collection basket on September 19.

The pandemic restrictions on indoor gatherings had a devastating effect on weekly contributions and resulted in the complete loss of bingo income – the largest source of parish income – for 16 months. Any assistance from school alumni as the result of this collection will be greatly appreciated by the Blessed Trinity parish family. Donors will be remembered in prayers offered for parish benefactors, and individual written acknowledgements will also be provided if required by IRS Regulations.

Keeping in TouchAs always, we encourage each of you to reach out to your classmates and take advantage of the annual Mass and reception to reconnect in person. “Extra credit” goes to Freddy Smith from the Class of 1967 who first organized his classmates in 2017 and has continued to do so ever since.

Bobbe (Schmelzer) Lukasik maintains our database, and can provide classmate contact information, but every year we lose touch with some of you due to unreported address changes. This annual paper mailing always produces a discouragingly large number of “undeliverable as addressed” returns. Please help us keep you “in the loop” by advising Bobbe if you have a new address – postal or email – or have abandoned your land line in favor of a mobile phone. You can use the “Contact Us” template at the bottom of this page or go “retro” with a phone call or email to Bobbe: 716-684-5365; bertababe2 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Social Media Presence – In addition to the “School Alumni” page on the parish website, the Alumni maintains a “Blessed Trinity School Alumni” Facebook page. It’s a great way to re-connect. We encourage you to “like” us on Facebook and share your memories or photos. You’d be amazed at how many comments one class photo can generate. If you need help positing, contact the BT Web Diva, Margaret (“Mickey”) Stiffler Dick (’59). You can reach her at 716-832-2540 or mnbdick [at] roadrunner [dot] com.

Restoration Project – Since 2015, this annual newsletter has reported on the church’s $329,640.00 repair and restoration project, partially funded by a reimbursement grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Grant terms required the parish to contribute $100,000.00 plus. We are now happy to report that repair and replacement of the front steps and concrete plaza area and roof restoration work have been completed. This has allowed for some long overdue interior plastering and repainting of water-damaged areas. Thankfully, the latter was covered by insurance.

We look forward to welcoming you and your family members on Sunday, September 19.  If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch with Bud Dick or Bobbe (Schmelzer) Lukasik.

Blessed Trinity Parish Community News

Rev. Robert L. Gebhard, Jr. – We are happy to introduce “Father Bob,” who was appointed as temporary administrator of Blessed Trinity Parish in October 2020. No stranger to the central city, Father Bob has been the Vicar of the Northwest Central Vicariate and Coordinator of the Catholic Urban Outreach Network. He has previously served as Pastor of St. James Parish, Buffalo, St. John Vianney in Orchard Park and was on the Faculty of Christ the King Seminary at the time of its closing. A native of Buffalo, Father Bob enjoys spending time with his parents and extended family and considers family one of his greatest blessings. He is definitely an “outdoorsman,” and delights in spending his one day off working at his cabin in the woods of the Southern Tier. In addition to his priestly ministries, Father Bob can often be found working in the church and rectory gardens and chatting with the neighbors.

Trinity Blend CoffeeNow that you can once again invite friends over for coffee, why not treat them to a cup of Trinity Blend 3-in-1 Premium Coffee. A unique blend of Brazilian, Columbian, and Honduran coffee beans, it is locally roasted specifically for Blessed Trinity by Buffalo’s own Golden Cup Coffee. (You may have seen their displays in Wegman’s). Trinity Blend is available in 12 oz. bags and 12-count packs of K-cups, but ONLY at Blessed Trinity. Taste test it for free at the alumni reception and take home either size for $10.

Mother Cabrini – The production crew filming Alejandro Monteverde’s still untitled movie about Francesca Cabrini is scheduled to be “on set” at Blessed Trinity in September. A Buffalo Niagara Film Office web post describes the film as “chart[ing] the meteoric rise of an astonishing and audacious woman who – through her relentless perseverance and business skill – overcame the sexism and …anti-Italian bigotry of 19th century America, to build schools, orphanages and hospitals that transformed the lives of immigrants worldwide.” It is the second time BT has been chosen as a setting for scenes in a Hollywood movie. The first was Director Maria Burton’s 2002 “Manna from Heaven.”

Coming Home for Christmas – Liturgical planning calls for our Christmas 2021 celebration to begin at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, 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.

Ballet and Boxing – You won’t often think of these disciplines together unless you visit our former school building at 307 Leroy. Students of Marvin Askew’s Buffalo City Ballet practice their positions and choreography where we once practiced our penmanship, and boxing programs for both men and women utilize an official boxing ring in the refurbished third floor gymnasium. 

Church bricklayer Francis Gajewski, circa 1926

BT Bricklayer – In the fall of 2020, the parish received a communication from the grandson of a man who had worked on the construction of the church as a bricklayer. Subsequently, he sent a photo of a young Frank Gajewski on the job. We have now identified the spot where he is standing. You can view his handiwork when you visit on September 19. 

Everything Old is New Again – The Fillmore-Leroy-Kensington area has become home to an increasing number of immigrant families who are purchasing and repairing neighborhood houses for themselves and their extended families. This spring and summer, parishioners have noticed a definite increase in the number of children at play, adults completing outside do-it-yourself projects, and families just taking a walk. And since every ethnic community needs to satisfy its culinary needs, there is now a new grocery store – The Fillmore Super Market – occupying a long-vacant building on the southwest corner of Fillmore Avenue at Dewey. (If you are really old, you may remember this as the original site of Loblaw’s before it moved to Fillmore and Kensington).

Forty Days – A lot can happen in forty days; ask Noah. However, we remain hopeful that the coronavirus curve will be flat or flattening in Erie County on September 19, 2021, allowing for a happy and healthy reunion. We hope to see you there.

Annual Alumni Gathering Returns on Sept 19, 2021

Although The COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of our 2020 Memorial Mass and all-class reception, relaxed restrictions on social gatherings and social distancing have allowed us to reinstitute our joyful reunion on Sunday, September 19, 2021, beginning with Mass at 10am. A “hard copy” newsletter with complete details will be mailed in August to alumni and friends on the Alumni Committee’s mailing list. In the interim, additional information will be posted on this page and on the Blessed Trinity School Alumni Facebook page. If you wish to be added to that list, use the “Contact” feature below to provide name (maiden name, if applicable), year of graduation, and mailing address.

 

COVID Cancellation: Oct 4, 2020 Alumni Mass and Reunion

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

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of church services in March 2020, none of us could have imagined that its long-term effects would  persist into the fall and threaten the alumni’s fourteen year tradition. Although Sunday Mass has resumed at BT, current diocesan social-distancing requirements mean only family units can sit together. There can be no mini-tours, joyful embraces in the vestibule, class group seating or gift-bearing processional. And with little hope of relaxed rules on public gatherings, there would be no possibility of hosting a reception following the Mass. For all of the above, the alumni committee has reluctantly decided to cancel the Oct. 4, 2020 Alumni Memorial Mass and all-class reunion.

Katherine Speyer LeClaire, ’59

Had we been able to proceed as planned, this year’s reception would have been dedicated to Katherine (“Kathy”) Speyer LeClaire of the Class of 1959. Kathy had been a dedicated member of the committee since its formation in 2005 for purposes of planning the 2006 centennial gathering. She participated in the decision to continue gathering for a Memorial Mass and all-class reception and supported the annual endeavor with her time and energy (and homemade pastry). Kathy’s family recognized her commitment in choosing the church’s Under This Roof Fund to receive memorial contributions. We were all saddened by Kathy’s unexpected death on April 11, and will continue to honor her memory as we anticipate a Memorial Mass  in 2021.

When we are able to gather again at Blessed Trinity, we will also remember the following graduates who have passed away since last year’s Mass: Richard J. Gibney, Class of 1941; Rosemary MacVittie White, ’43; John J. “Jack” Kennedy, Jr., ’45; Rev. Donald L. Measer, ’46; Sister Dorothy M. Smith, ’48; Robert J. O’Connor IV, ’50; Leona Louis Frank and Edward Arthur Mauger, ’55; Mary Crehan, Robert M. Guy, Jr. (died in 2018) and Lee J. Vaughan, ’56; Sister. Linda Glaeser, ’61; Mary Joan Hriczko Santiago, ’67; Susanne M. Gampp, ’73; and former Assistant Pastors Rev. Msgr. William J. Gallagher (1969-71) and Rev. Msgr. Kevin T. O’Neill, (1971–75). Please inform the Committee if you are aware of other recent alumni or faculty deaths so that they may be included as well.You can view a honor roll of deceased alumni from previous years by clicking HERE.

By now, you should have received the annual alumni newsletter in the mail with news of the cancellation and other pertinent information. If you did not receive it, you must be missing from our database of alumni and friends. To be included, use the contact feature below. Please provide your name (including maiden name if applicable), year of graduation from BTS, postal address, email address and preferred phone number. We promise not to besiege you with emails or phone calls. The information you provide will be used for the purposes of class or school reunions only.

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.

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, the Ladies Sodality of Blessed Trinity, 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, 2019 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.