Niagara Gazette

Opinion

November 18, 2013

HIGGS: It's the people that make the church

Niagara Gazette — Since the definition of a landmark refers mainly to the structure itself we have learned much about the building of the Holy Trinity complex on the East Side of Niagara Falls in the early 1900s. Most of this information was found in the document prepared by the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission in conjunction with the City of Niagara Falls Planning Office and the original research was completed by parishioners and friends of Holy Trinity Parish in January 2008.

Now it is time to get some real-life stories from the parishioners themselves. Like any other building whether a landmark or not, it is the people who bring it to life. After all, of what value is a beautifully designed church building if there is no occupancy? Reading about the continuous building at this complex during these early years, I wondered where the funding came from. First, it was the large magnificent church, then the garage, the convent, the school and so forth. Each of these projects was deemed necessary by the parishioners as their numbers grew and donations (sometimes pennies) were willingly given. The church was their community and they truly supported it.

I met with a friend who was born Angela Zaidel 80-plus years ago and raised on 15th Street across from Holy Trinity School. The neighborhood at the time was mixed with residents of many ethnic backgrounds with many of them of Polish descent. She, like most of them, attended her early childhood school years at Holy Trinity. Learning the polish language was mandatory and the teachers were nuns as I mentioned in an earlier article.

Each grade had separate classrooms as there was always a large population of students. Boys and girls studied together but there were separate entrance ways as in the public schools at the time. Students attended Mass before a full day of schooling. They went home for lunch as they all lived nearby. Angie lived in an apartment with her family behind the grocery store owned by her family.

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