Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 27, 2014

HIGGS: Looking back at the growth of St. Mary of the Cataract

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — In 1863 during the time of the Rev. Patrick Cannon, the church was enlarged to meet the growing population.

As mentioned previously, Rev. Stephen’s grave was incorporated into the construction of the transept and sanctuary. During 1864, additional property was purchased from the Porter family for a young girls’ academy, and in 1865 the nave and side aisles to the church itself were added. The old church almost totally disappeared with only the original front left standing, according to a Catholic article undertaken to “Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of his Holiness, Pope Pius X “written sometime in 1914. The church was opened for divine service on Nov. 5, 1865, when confirmation was administered to almost 100 persons.

The parish continued to grow and in 1869, Bishop Stephen Ryan gave first Communion to a class of children and administered confirmation to a class of 140 persons during his first visit. Father Cannon was transferred to Lockport during this year and the Rev. Patrick Moynihan was appointed rector. Father Moynihan continued this growth with the purchase of a lot and two frame buildings south of the church for its first parochial school which opened during October of 1870 with 120 students.

Remember the comments about the church “being the life of the congregation from birth until death” in a previous article on Holy Trinity. Well, this concept was apparently recognized and adopted among all congregations throughout the diocese during these times as the parishioners of Holy Trinity followed these same steps of St. Mary’s in the early 1900s. Father Moynihan also started the rebuild of the church façade and steeple during 1873. His health deteriorated during his last two years of service and he died in Genoa, Italy, on Sept. 7, 1878, when he accompanied Bishop Ryan during a trip to Rome.

Following in the footsteps of Father Moynihan, the Rev. James A. Lanigan became the next pastor and during 1884, ground was broken for a new, three-story building south of the church for a new parochial school which was opened the following year. Seven members of the Sisters of Mercy resided temporarily in the new school as there was not a convent at this time. Father Lanigan presided when the church was incorporated on Jan. 9, 1890, after instructions from the Bishop to all pastors of the diocese. He returned to Buffalo in 1896 and became the rector of the Cathedral of Buffalo and Vicar General of the Diocese.

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