Niagara Gazette — Matthew “Whitey” Sciera and his wife Wanda would have been proud.
After all, how many parents can say their son witnessed the canonization of two popes. In fact, in earlier days, one was a friend of their son. Unfortunately, Whitey and Wanda did not live to see that day, the historic event in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
Their son, Monsignor Ronald P. Sciera, 79, a native of Niagara Falls and a longtime priest serving several parishes in the eight-county Buffalo Catholic Diocese, has spent years in the Vatican as a board member of the John Paul II Foundation. The pontiff appointed him to the foundation in 1996, a move that required regular trips to Rome, Italy, for meetings with the pope and other church officials.
In all likelihood the monsignor had a close-up view of the ceremonies at St. Peter’s but details on the priest’s itinerary that day were virtually impossible to confirm. It was estimated that upward of 4 million people were bound for Rome that weekend including some 5,000 priests, more than 1,000 bishops and dignitaries from 90 countries.
The prime purpose of the massive assembly, of course, was the elevation to sainthood of John XXIII and John Paul II, two famous predecessors of current Pope Francis.
Sciera completed his studies for a B.A. degree at St. Mary’s College in Minnesota and received a master’s from Louvain University in Belgium in 1961, the same year he was ordained to the priesthood. He served as an associate pastor at five area churches until 1979, when he was appointed pastor of Precious Blood Parish in Buffalo. Despite a hectic schedule, he found time to organize healing services and youths trips in the diocese. He also was a regular contributor to Catholic radio programs and served for a time as the chaplain for the Buffalo Sabres Hockey Club.