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150 Year Anniversary Celebration

     On Monday October 19, 2011, The Sisters of Saint Francis celebrated their 150 years of service in the  Diocese of Buffalo.

    It was bright sunny day and over 100 people attended the event held on the grounds of their former complex. It was held next to their former Mother House overlooking the Orchard.


A few of the sisters spoke of their mission to serve the elderly and their commitment to nature.


Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein congratulated the sisters for their service and Deputy Supervisor Guy R. Marlette talked about their history and presented them with A Town Proclamation honoring their Service.


Sister Caryn Crook, OSF, Franciscan Ecology Coordinator gave a presentation on “Ecosystems - Their Sacredness and Our Care for Them.”


Lois Shriver, chairperson of the Amherst Conservation Advisory Committee was presented with 250 daffodil bulbs. These bulbs will be planted along the newly cleared north fence area.

Welcome for Amherst State Park Event

Good afternoon.  I am Sister Dolores Cook, member of the Peace and Justice Committee of the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities.   I have been asked to share a brief history of our congregation’s tenure of this land.

On Wednesday, December 18, 1861 a small group of Sisters from Philadelphia came to the Buffalo area at the request of the Redemptorist Fathers who were at St. Mary’s Parish in downtown Buffalo.  These Sisters immediately began a mission of caring for the sick poor in their homes, and shortly thereafter at the request of Bishop John Timon began to teach school as well. 

Before long it became apparent that there was need for housing for many elderly men and women, so the Sisters purchased some property in the city and built St. Francis Asylum for the Aged.  This home was not only a home for the elderly but was the first Motherhouse for these Sisters of St. Francis in the Diocese of Buffalo.

Fast forward to 1901 – John Blocher, hearing of and admiring the work of the Sisters, donated 100 acres of land in Williamsville to them, and several months later the first Holy Family Home near the Reist Street portion of the property opened its doors to two elderly men in need of housing and care.

In the early 1920’s the Sisters realized that there was a need for a new Motherhouse and the decision was made to build that new home on the Williamsville property.  More land was purchased by the community to allow for frontage on Mill Street, and the new home, called St. Mary of the Angels, was dedicated on October 28, 1928.  That new home would not only be the Motherhouse of the community, but would serve as general headquarters and novitiate as well as having a wing on each of three floors to continue the ministry to the elderly poor.  Novices and postulants moved here in October and on November 6 the professed Sisters moved in.  Thus began a long stay for our congregation on this very land that we called home for 71 years – from November 1928 to November 1999 when we relocated to what was then our new Motherhouse at 201 Reist Street.  On May 6, 1998 Governor Pataki had visited these grounds  to announce the purchase of the property for use as Amherst State Park.

For those of us alive today 400 Mill Street was home – Motherhouse – of the community which began its ministry here in the Buffalo Diocese 150 years ago.  This year has been for us a series of remembrances – of celebrations – of giving thanks for the blessings God has showered on us these past 150 years: for ministries in which we have been engaged; for friends, supporters and benefactors who have aided us in our efforts; for the beautiful land which was the base of our many activities for 71 of those 150 years.

Today’s event is one of many that we have had this year to mark our service to the people in the Western New York area.  I want to extend a special welcome to this event to Town Supervisor Dr. Barry Weinstein, to Deputy Supervisor Guy Marlette, to the Chairperson of the Arboretum Committee of the Amherst State Park, Lois Shriver and to the General Minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Sister Patricia Burkard. – and also to those of you who have joined us today as we continue to remember – to celebrate – to give thanks.

Early History of St. Mary’s Mother Housestmaryearly.html
St. Mary’s Mother House Photo Gallerygallery/Pages/St._Mary_of_the_Angels.html

Click on one the pictures to view a larger view of that picture and a manual slide show of the album.

   Sister Dolores Cook welcomes participants to the 150 th.  Anniversary Celebration and gives a brief history. (text left)