( RELEASE ) Bishop Edward U. Kmiec has informed members of St. Bernard Parish in Buffalo’s Kaisertown neighborhood that he has decided to delay the pending merger with Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Cheektowaga. Parishioners were informed of the decision at weekend Masses (Apr. 2-3). Earlier this year, the bishop was considering a proposal to merge St. Bernard and Our Lady of Czestochowa, with the St. Bernard site to be closed.
“For a limited time, St. Bernard’s will remain a parish community,” Bishop Kmiec said. “Given the demographics of the area and diocesan pastoral needs, this decision will be revisited in the fall of 2012. Hopefully, this will give added time to see if the trends of decline of the parish can be reversed.”
Father Francis Chmielewski, temporary administrator of the parish, was named pastor of St. Bernard, effective April 1.
“The spiritual life of the parish is a priority, said Father Chmielewski. “I will work closely with the parishioners to revitalize our faith community as we continue to nurture the faith. This is almost like Lazarus rising from the dead in many ways.”
In March, neighboring St. Casimir Parish became an oratory of the diocese, with Father Czeslaw Krysa, diocesan director of the Office of Worship, named part-time rector.
“There is now a real sense of urgency,” Bishop Kmiec said. “It is important that the St. Bernard’s and St. Casimir’s faith communities work together on Mass schedules, in programs of religious education, youth ministry, community and parish outreach. By doing so, the entire Kaisertown community will benefit.”
The final Journey in Faith and Grace announcement of parish reconfiguration in 2008 called for the linkage of St. Bernard and St. Casimir parishes, which they did in September of that year.
Bishop Kmiec also extended his personal thanks to Father Chmielewski for his willingness to continue to lead St. Bernard Parish. “Given the limited number of priests available, Father Chmielewski’s willingness to serve the parish weighed considerably in my decision. I ask the faithful of St. Bernard’s to support him and work with him for the continuance of the parish.”