BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Parishioners at one Catholic church in Buffalo want to offer new inspiration to the community in the midst of the church abuse scandal.
7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley takes us to Blessed Sacrament on Delaware Avenue where a new program is about to be launched called “Church on Fire: Stay with Us!”
Blessed Sacrament pastor Father Joe Porpiglia distributed ashes throughout the day to accommodate everyone's busy schedules on Ash Wednesday.
Father Joe admits the priest abuse scandal has been tough, but he says it's now time to renew the jission of the Catholic Church.
“It’s just devastating to all of us, to the victims, parishioners to the priests. There is still very much we need. We need to be about remembering what the mission of the church is, bringing hope and kindling of fire of love and compassion to others,” replied Father Joe.
Blessed Sacrament is hoping a series of discussions and concerts featuring both local and national speakers, including the author of ‘Dead Man Walking', Sr. Helen Prejean, will inspire the entire community.
Parishioner Peter Rizzo says as a younger generation of this parish, he too has been affected by the church crisis.
“It’s something that affected me very deeply and bottom line I was very angry and upset over what was happening,” said Rizzo.
“What keeps you coming to church through all of this?” asked Buckley. “It’s the sense of community that we afford everybody - no one is ever turned away here,” responded Rizzo.
Rizzo says instead of staying angry, he joined the parish council. “The integrity of the catholic church resides in the members of its ranks,” Rizzo stated.
Long time parishioner and parish council chair Michael Pitek says the “Church on Fire” speaker and concert series is a chance to talk about a rebirth and redefine how the catholic church reaches new generations.
“If it’s broken, you want to fix it and we need all the voices,” Pitek explained. “The church has to be relevant. People are Tweeting, well we need to Tweet, instead of send a letter from the pastor.”
Blessed Sacrament says they’re inviting everyone in the community, Catholic and non-Catholic to attend.
“Fire is a way of purifying, of cleansing and I hope we are filled with fire of compassion,” Father Joe said.
This Saturday the church will be holding a symbolic event on pilgrimage. Parishioners are invited to make hiking sticks.
“Our walking stick is like our faith. If you’re on a pilgrimage or your on a hike, you can’t just grab a stick at the last moment because you are going to fall, you need to have it with you, so it’s there to help you in the difficulties, carrying it good and bad times, just like our faith,” Father Joe noted.
Five lectures and three concerts will run over the next five months from March-July. For more information on the events and ticket information go to the parish website for more information.