The Infant of Prague shrine in Williamsville is closing its doors for good Monday

Posted at 4:29 PM, Jul 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-14 22:08:33-04

The Infant of Prague Shrine in Williamsville is closing for good Monday (7/16) afternoon after serving the community for 61 years. 

“We wish it could still be available to people, but it's just not possible," Sister Bernadine Salazar O.S.F., said. 

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities said there's not enough money to keep it open.

"Financially we can just not afford it. We don’t have the personnel for the maintenance," Sister Marianne Ferguson O.S.F., said.

For years, the shrine as operated as a place where people can come to pray or write intentions of good will for their loved ones on a 24-hour 7-days-a-week basis.

Thousands of people have visited the shrine since it opened in 1957. Sister Salazar remembers one person who credits the shrine with a child's health.

"The person attributes his sons good health to having prayed here at the shrine," Salazar said.

Even though it's an icon of the Catholic faith, people from all different religions have visited.

"Here is where they are alone with their god. Even different denominations. People from all over. Mexico. Canada," Sister Salazar said.

The shrine is adorned with candles and a replica statue of the Infant of Prague in the center. It's a small space right off of Main Street, but it's impact is huge.

"Just being able to have someplace to come to actually spend some quiet time during the work day," said Jim Smyzczynski of Getzville, said.

He said he comes to the shrine "about once a week" to pray and escape the chaos of the world if only for a few moments.

“I think its a very spiritual place. Quiet. You can pray in peace.”

Despite the shrine's closing, the prayers and intentions left throughout the years will not be forgotten.

"We will continue to remember all their petitions and concerns in our daily prayers,” Sister Salazar said.

And while the Sisters may be relocating to a new building, but their mission is not over.

“We are going to keep the spirit open. Even though we don’t have the building we will still be able to continue the ministry," Sister Ferguson said.

The Shrine will be open until Monday afternoon for visitors to come in and pray or write intentions.