Father Airey soon endeared himself to the hearts of the parishioners and with their help and cooperation many improvements in the church and on the church property were realized. In 1924 the entire basement under the church was excavated and a hall erected where church socials and meetings could be held. In the summer of 1926, the interior of the church was decorated and on November 10, 1926, Bishop Turner made his first visitations to the Parish and confirmed a class of 57 adults and children. In 1927, the coal furnace was converted to a gas boiler and a new electric light system was installed in the church and rectory. Again in 1932, Bishop Turner visited the Parish Church and confirmed a class of 100 adults and children from Colden and Jewettville.
In the years following, many minor improvements were made by Father Airey, and in 1936 a parcel of property adjoining the rectory was purchased from the Frantz estate.
The first lay trustee of the church was Frank Spengler. He was succeeded by John Schoenthaler, who served as trustee until his death in 1937, to be succeeded by Edward Lamm, son of Godfrey Lamm, in whose home the first Mass in Colden was celebrated. The present trustees of our Parish are: David Paul and Martin Kondziela.
Almighty God and His Blessed Mother have certainly favored this small but beautiful Parish situated in the Colden Hills Valley. Its congregation now numbers some 175 families within its boundaries which are: Knapp Road to the north, Center Road to the east, East Concord town line in the south and Cole Road in the west.
Thanks to the generosity and cooperation of the present Parishioners, many new purchases and improvements have been made in the church and around the church property on the occasion of this Golden Jubilee; namely, new Handrails have been purchased by the Holy name Society, new organ has been installed for Christmas 1961, new concrete side-walks have been laid, the church has been repainted and remodeled on the inside, a new easy chair for the parlor and new dining room chairs have been purchased for the rectory, and a new missal, new gold vestments and new candle sticks and cross have been purchased for the main altar in the church by the Altar and Rosary Society.
Much credit belongs to the present Parishioners for their generous contributions and cooperation to the members of the Holy Name Society who volunteered many hours of invaluable help to lay the concrete, paint the barn, buildings and install the new floor in the church, and to the Altar and Rosary Society members for their contributions towards the new purchases in the church.
BIOGRAPHIES OF OUR PASTORS
Rev. James B. Howley
Colden Pastorate: 1913 – 1917
In December of 1913, Father Howley was named pastor of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church where he served for four years. Until his arrival, our church had always been serviced by visiting pastors from near-by churches. He established the first rectory which he purchased from the Siegal family for the payment of $1800. He felt he has secured land sufficient to build an accompanying school and parking lot. He established this new parish which was in its first year of development and later guided the destinies of five others and assisted in the administration of a sixth. During World War I, he became an Army Chaplain and at the time of the Armistice was serving at Camp Upton. His sister, Alice Howley resided with him and was both housekeeper and our first organist. His memory carries with it the distinction of having been our first resident pastor.
Rev. Eugene S. Airey
Colden and Jewettville Pastorate: 1917 – 1937
Our fondest memory is of our beloved Father Airey. He endeared himself to the entire community by his indefatigable interest in their welfare. All homes in Colden placed the welcome mat outside their doors for him. For twenty years, he was our spiritual advisor and friend. He lived as one of us, cutting his own firewood, raising chickens and rebuilding the rectory. During this time, he commuted to St. George’s Church, Jewettville each week to say Mass. In 1937, we were saddened by the appointment of Father Airey to the Visitation Church, Buffalo, where he served until his death in 1948. Those of us, who remember him, shall always cherish his memory.
Rev. John McNamara
Colden and Jewettville Pastorate: 1937 – 1939
In 1937, Father McNamara became our new pastor. Although his stay was short, he refurbished the interior of the rectory, drilled two unsuccessful wells and enjoyed our most successful picnic. He was good to everyone and the parishioners were sad to see him leave in 1939. Upon leaving our parish, be became pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, Perry.
Rev. Harold F. Gonter
Colden Pastorate: 1939 – 1942
The next installation saw the arrival of Father Gonter. The parishioners soon found his sermons to be stimulating as well as penetrating. We remember with humor his reference to “slippery nickels.” His stay was significantly different in that it brought his mother and sister to Colden. Despite the fact that he was kept busy with the care of his mother, he found time for his wood-working hobby. Parishioners remember viewing his handiwork in the basement of the rectory. On occasion, the Mass was beautifully sung and played by his sister until she left to serve as full-time organist at Jewettville. He left us to become the first resident pastor of our mission church, St. George’s. We watch for the frequent mentions of him in the press as he now serves one of the largest Buffalo parishes.
Rev. Anthony Ciechanski
Colden Pastorate: 1942 – 1945
Our pastor from 1942-1945 was Father Ciechanski. He became friend to many parishioners as well as our spiritual advisor. We felt he was sincerely interested in the welfare of his people and he labored for the salvation of their souls. He sends us special greetings at this time. “On this occasion of the fiftieth anniversary, I extend my felicitations and pray that Almighty God will continue to bless its parishioners with peace, contentment and His divine protection.” At present he is pastor of the Holy Apostles, S.S. Peter and Paul Church, Buffalo.
Rev. Joseph Rojek
Colden Pastorate: 1945 - 1953
Father Rojek stayed eight years with us in Colden and during that time endeared himself to the congregation. We especially remember his annual social call to each of our homes. The altar boys recall “shaking in their boots” as he disciplined them sternly but today as they reflect, they agree it was worth it. While he believed in good behavior, he pitied them too as it was during his stay that the cushions were purchased for the altar boys to kneel upon. He introduced the practice of delivering the sermon in two languages that of Polish and English. This endeared him to our Polish speaking townsfolk. In 1958, he was transferred to Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Cheektowaga, New York.
Rev. John A. Praczkajlo
Colden Pastorate: 1953 – 1957
The happy occasion of his 25th Silver Anniversary was celebrated in Colden. The parishioners enjoyed taking part in this special event and a banquet was given in his honor. Several of the parishioners portrayed happenings in his life as they enacted, “This Is Your Life.” Father Praczkajlo became known as Father John to all of us and we felt a great loss when he was transferred to the Blessed Trinity Church, Niagara Falls, where he is presently serving. Perhaps the choir owes him a special vote of thanks as he was the one pastor who lent his support to developing good church music. He frequently came to choir practice and taught the correct pronunciation of the Latin. He also introduced the “Gregorian Chant” in this parish.
Rev. Stanislaus Wisniewski
Colden Pastorate: 1957 – 1959
As each individual is remembered for some special trait, so is Father Wisniewski, more commonly known to us as Father Stanley. A “Hi” and a smile was a welcome sight anytime one met him. In his short stay, everyone admired his jovial manner. He was a welcome visitor to many homes of Our Lady of Sacred Heart parishioners. Aside from being one of our friendliest pastors, he delivered a sermon that moved one spiritually. His appointment to St. Tereas’s Church in Akron was heard with disappointment. His success there has been welcome news. May God continue to bless him.
Rev. Joseph E. Kuczka
Colden Pastorate: March 1959 to August 1959
It was a happy coincidence that Father Kuczka should be appointed pastor of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church. He has been Father Airey’s assistant soon after his ordination. It seemed like many parishioners knew him before his arrival. During his very short stay with us, he had accomplished a visit to every home in the parish. His unusual interest in this short span left a memory of a very devoted pastor. He is presently the pastor of the Sacred Heart Church of Jesus, Batavia. He is our only priest whom we are aware was trained in Europe.
Rev. Henry E. Laskowski
Colden Pastorate: 1959 - 1963
Father Laskowski is our present pastor known to all of us as “Father Henry.” He came to us in August 1959 and his installation was a very happy occasion for us all as he announced that his principal aim was to aid the parishioners to be more perfect Catholics and to ultimately attain heaven and eternal salvation. He has a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the Infant of Prague and during one Christmas season sent to each parishioner a card bearing a medal of the Divine Infant and a picture of Our Blessed Mother. It was during his time that the “Community Mass” was introduced and is now so well conducted by Mr. John Putney, David Paul, and Timothy Trost. Father Henry has furthered many progressive changes in our church in helping us celebrate our Jubilee in a fitting manner. We owe him many thanks for staying with us for our Golden Jubilee. It was his earnest desire to make this year a worthwhile one both spiritually and temporally. Each parishioner ought to feel closeness to God as Father Henry’s efforts to celebrate this Jubilee are realized.
Rev. Joseph Lipczynski
Colden Pastorate: 1963 – 1966
Under Father Lipczynski’s guidance the following improvements were made to the church properties. The outside of the church and rectory were painted, new gutters were installed at the rectory, the concrete steps in front of the rectory were replaced with wooden steps and handrails, the porches were painted and the downstairs woodwork. An acoustic ceiling was installed in the rectory and the inside walls were all painted by Father Joe and Mary his housekeeper for free. Storm doors and windows replaced on the rectory as well. Father Lipczynski also had the well drilled 30 feet deeper in the hopes of obtaining more water. A number of the appliances were also replaced in the rectory.
In the church, Father Lipczynski had the statues artistically renovated. And, a new red rug was installed in the Sanctuary. The lighting was updated and a new electrical panel installed to accommodate future needs. The three alters and communion rails were painted. Father Lipczynski presented the parish a golden-gilded chalice received by the Knights of Columbus. The parish chalice, arboretum, Sacristy bells, and Crucifix over the tabernacle were gold-plated. Father Lipczynski also started the extension of the Sacristy before his departure.
Rev. Casmir A. Zak
Colden Pastorate: 1966 – 1967
Under Father Zak, a parish council was convened and met regularly to discuss church issues. A church bulletin initiated. The main concerns at the time were ushers, altar servers, spiritual needs as well as a need for social activities to better acquaint the newer members of the parish. This council also discussed purchasing property for future expansion. Father Zak also motivated the expansion of singing during the masses and purchased additional hymnals for the pews.
Rev. Maximilian Panczakiewicz
Colden Pastorate: 1967 – 1976
Father Max requested readers from the parish during his time at OLSHC and began a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). During Father Max’s tenure, middle and high school religious education instruction began to be held on Sunday mornings. Father Max also began holding a 6:30 p.m. Mass on Sundays to accommodate the visiting skiers during the winter months. A new parish council began under Father Max with new members stepping up and taking over the reins. During Father Max’s tenure, the altar railing was removed, the main altar removed and the large Crucifix put on a backdrop in its place; and as required, the statues were removed from the altar so that the focus could be on the Eucharistic Banquet of the Mass. Father Max purchased the outside Nativity scene that is still used today. Father Max was well known for walking in the town of Colden and stopping by to visit parishioners along the way. He would visit the older parishioners during the week and say masses in their homes. He was well loved by all in town and we were saddened when he decided to leave us.
Rev. Richard Coveny
Colden Pastorate: 1976 – 2006
Father Rich brought many changes to our parish during his tenure. Under his guidance, the entire church was renovated and in time a parish hall erected and dedicated in his name. The parish council revitalized and various parish ministries created with greater parish involvement began to take precedence and we built a small faith community that knew no boundaries drawing parishioners from all over our region. We became a parish of choice by those who joined us. Our music ministry grew and is a mainstay that kept us together with Father Rich. We had our ups and downs along the way but grew stronger as the years passed. It was definitely a sad day for us when Father Rich made the difficult decision to retire. We love him deeply and wish him well!
Sister Margaret Donner
Colden Pastorate: 2006 – 2008
Sister Margaret held our lifelong faith community together during the absence of a priest. She is strong beyond words and we all love her dearly for all that she has done. Sr. Margaret made sure that each week we had a visiting priest to share the Mass with us. If for some reason, weather or schedule mix-ups, kept the priest from making a Mass, Sister Margaret was there waiting in the wings to fill their place with a communion service. All in attendance were inspired by her homilies.
To the visiting priests who served our parishes over the years, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your inspiring words, thoughts, and kind deeds. You always felt like home to us!
It is with a sad heart that we must close this chapter in our history at Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church but we are looking forward to a bright new beginning in our new home in West Falls. As we began in 1912, as two small mission churches, we are beginning anew. We truly have come full circle.