VILLAGE OF LEWISTON — A statue of the Madonna, left behind with the closing of Niagara Catholic in June of 2018, has found a new home.
The statue is being moved to St. Peter’s R.C. Church in the Village of Lewiston on Center Street where it’ll be dedicated on Sunday after the 10:30 a.m. mass.
Father David LiPuma said that as long as he’s been at St. Peters — six years, the Altar & Rosary Society has been asking for an outdoor shrine to Our Lady, also known as the Madonna, Mother of God and Our Lady of Peace in the Catholic faith. LiPuma said that such plans had been stalled by other construction but because the statue left by Niagara Catholic was in good condition it was decided that it could be moved to Lewiston.
“That statue has great meaning to the alums, and particularly to the girls that went to Madonna,” LiPuma said. “Anyone who wants to come on (Sunday), there’s going to be a Mass at 10:30 and then after we’re going to process outside and we’ll have the official dedication of the statue and the grotto. Everyone’s invited to that and there’s going to be a reception afterward.”
According to LiPuma, Catholic education is strong Niagara County, though he noted that high school students, should they want a Catholic education would have to travel as far as Tonawanda or Buffalo.
“There’s St. Peter’s school, then there’s Stella Niagara that’s run by the Stella Sisters of St. Francis,” LiPuma said. “Then in Niagara Falls there’s Catholic Academy, which is another grade school, then there’s Sacred Heart Villa on Lewiston Road run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, but sadly we lost the high school connection, so we have the elementary and we have Niagara University, but we lost the connection of the high school.”
The dedication date is also the last time that Father LiPuma will be performing a weekend mass for St. Peter’s. Recently, the man who was named the Village of Lewiston Citizen of the Year for 2019, was reassigned to the Basilica in Lackawana. As he spoke of his faith and his departure, LiPuma explained why the Madonna is so important to Catholics worldwide.
“Mary is our Mother of God, and as the Mother of God, she’s also all of our mothers,” LiPuma said. “May is a particular time where we honor the Blessed Mother… Mary, we believe, is a powerful intercessor… she teaches us with the example of her life: to pray, to trust in God, and to do whatever God asks of us.”
To do that, LiPuma explained that like the Madonna, he is saying ‘yes’ to the path set out before him. As his last major act in the area, he hopes that the alumni of St. Mary’s, Madonna, Bishop Duffy and Niagara Catholic will attend the dedication for a statue that’s importance during that period of their lives was both physical, but also represented the values taught there.
“The Madonna girls will know that statue because it was in Madonna,” LiPuma said. “We wanted to make sure that everybody that graduated from those schools was remembered.”