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Buffalo News,   July 5, 1999  by Karen Brady

      As the Sisters of St. Francis prepare to leave their Williamsville motherhouse, the 22 stained-glass windows that have adorned its chapel for more than 70 years are being removed.

       Seven will go with the sisters to their new motherhouse on Reist Street. The rest will be stored or sold at auction July 17.

       "This is a bittersweet time for us," said Sister Marcella Nachreiner, communications director for the Williamsville Franciscans.

       "We're very excited about our move, and the auction," she said. "But during the past week and a half, the actual taking out of the windows, and the removal of the statue of the Blessed Mother from over the doorway, has been hard."

       Countless religious and antique pieces -- including artwork, furniture, pianos and organs -- will be up for grabs beginning at 10 a.m. on the day of the auction, in the original St. Mary of the Angels motherhouse at 400 Mill St., Williamsville.

       Preview and registration for the event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 16 and starting at 7:30 a.m. on sale day, July 17.

       Restaurant and laundry equipment and groundskeeping, maintenance and office equipment, as well as household furnishings, will also be sold, along with pieces as large as a 14-foot carved marble altar and as small as knives, forks and candlesticks.

       The seven stained-glass windows that the sisters are taking to their new convent -- all seven designed and painted on European glass by Otto Anderle, a well-known artisan in the 1920s -- will be resized to fit their new environment, Sister Nachreiner said.

       "Because of Mr. Anderle's expertise, the type of paint and the technique he used, the windows have retained their natural beauty over these past 70 years," she noted.

       One large window, the Stigmata of St. Francis, will be placed in a bay window forming the backdrop for the sanctuary of the sisters' new motherhouse at 201 Reist, also to be called St. Mary of the Angels.

       The Stigmata window was a gift to the sisters from architect George J. Dietel and his wife. St. Mary of the Angels was designed by the architectural firm of Dietel & Wade, the same firm that designed Buffalo's City Hall.

       Another large window going with the sisters is the Coronation of Mary Queen of the Angels. It will be resized and used in the doors forming the main entrance to the sisters' new chapel.

       "Several other windows will be used either in their entirety or in combination with other prisms and glass throughout the new convent," Sister Nachreiner said.

       McHugh Art Studios of Williamsville is removing and will resize and reinstall the windows by Anderle, whose work also hangs in St. Louis Catholic Church downtown and in Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.

       Sister Sandra Schweitzer, a liturgical artist from Indianapolis, is overseeing design of the sisters' new chapel.

       They expect to move from their four-story, blond-brick, Tudor-Gothic motherhouse in early October, Sister Nachreiner said.

       The imposing original motherhouse, along with more than 85 acres of land, is being sold to the New York State Parks Department and the Town of Amherst.

       "This is being done to free the sisters to put their energies into ministry rather than caring for buildings and property," Sister Nachreiner said.

       The new convent, still under construction, "will provide a cost-effective facility of caregiving for the sisters' senior members, and eliminate the high costs of maintaining an aging facility," she said.

       SHARON CANTILLON/Buffalo News

     Pat McHugh removes a stained-glass window from the chapel in the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis.

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