So now you have it. The Journey in Faith and Grace for the East Side cluster of the Western Niagara Vicarate Council has been nothing more than a sham. Believe me, it is with a heavy heart that I make such a statement. Yet what other conclusion can anyone make after reading the article in the Niagara Gazette dated May 31? This cluster recommended that the historic Holy Trinity Complex, Mother Church of Polonia for Niagara Falls should remain open, but the Diocese has reversed their decision and plans on closing it.

In February 2006 I learned that the Diocese of Buffalo had been in discussions with the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corporation to purchase the Holy Trinity Complex. I wrote a letter expressing my dismay over the impending sale. Shortly thereafter, Kevin Keenan, director of communications for the Diocese of Buffalo responded by saying, “While the Diocese of Buffalo has been approached about a possible sale of the property, the diocese has declined to enter into any negotiations while the parishes are engaged in the Journey in Faith and Grace process. It would be premature to enter into any discussions before recommendations are received from the parishes and accepted by the diocese.”

Well, the East Side cluster followed the guidelines laid out by the Diocese. Only one problem, they came up with a different conclusion than the Diocese had intended. So please Mr. Keenan, be honest, there was never any doubt that the Diocese was looking to sell off our heritage. When our Polish forefathers came here they bought land and built homes forming the nucleus of a Polish community. But their most precious possession was their deep and abiding faith that strengthened them as they set down their roots. As that community grew, so did their desire to worship as a congregation, sharing the same language and customs. It was on the east side that the seeds of Holy Trinity, the first Polish-American church in Niagara Falls were planted.

Within a few years an entire complex was built. Our forefathers sacrificed much to forge a bond with future generations. They wanted to pass on their values, how they thought of themselves and how they expected their children to grow.

The five building Holy Trinity complex, has been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. According to the historic preservation office, the complex is “architecturally significant as an outstanding collection of late 19th century masonry ecclesiastical architecture in Niagara Falls. As a group, they are significant as an illustration of the strength of the eastern European immigrant community in this part of the city during the 19th century. The buildings individually retain an outstanding degree of integrity of setting, design, location association, materials and craftsmanship.”

In other words, it’s an architectural jewel, with a rich history.

But even more importantly it is the only church in Niagara Falls where Karol Cardinal Wojtyla worshipped while on his American pilgrimage in 1976.

Isn’t it ironic? Catholics around the world are calling for the sainthood of Pope John Paul II. The Vatican is beginning the process of examining a miracle attributed to the Holy Father. And the Diocese of Buffalo has decided to close and demolish one of only two churches in Western New York blessed by the presence of this holy man.

Does anyone really believe that closing churches, these “Pillars of the Earth” will lead to a spiritual rebirth of the Diocese of Buffalo? I certainly don’t.

Linda Dojka Quinn is a Spencerport resident.