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Blessed St Mary Angela Church

(St Hyacinth's and St Hedwig's Combined )

Sr. Andrew, Sacristan, Fr. Krysa, Pastor, Sr. Rachel, pastoral associate, Sr. Bronisia, gather around the statue of new Patroness, Blessed Mary Angela

On Sunday, Oct. 11, parishioners of all ages, welcomed over seventy-five representatives of WNY's community of religious women, the Felician Sisters, to the Inaugural Mass of their new parish, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska. Both communities, religious and parochial, now share the mission of the same patroness expressed in the parish's vision statement:

Prayer first,

Eucharist (Sunday mass and Adoration),

Reaching out to the unwanted and needy,

Speaking Good news to new generations and each other (evangelization).

Blessed Mary Angela founded the Congregation of St. Felix of Cantalice in turbulent times (1855). Her homeland, Poland, was occupied and divided by foreign neighbors. Her sisters led a spiritual renewal in caring for and educating troubled youth, wounded soldiers (of both the Polish and enemy sides of war), abandoned sick and senior citizens, and teaching illiterate rural folk to read, write, and pray.

Only after being invited to the U.S. by Rev. Joseph Dabrowski, did the sisters open schools. Felicians taught at the former St. Hyacinth (1880s) and Hedwig (1905) Schools since their inception. Many of the sisters present either call Blessed  Mary Angela Parish their home or recalled their teaching years here.

Today in Dunkirk at the new Blessed Mary Angela Parish, three sisters have embraced change by adapting their ministry to some aspects of their original ministry by caring for the sick, ministering to those in health care facilities and the homebound, reaching out to the needy, and mentoring local youth. Sr Rachel Mikolajczak, superior and former principal of the parish school, directs the parish youth group, which recently sponsored a fundraiser to assist St. Joseph Parish in Gowanda, to "dig itself out" of the August flood.

All generations weekly serve and worship at the new parish, as the pastor, Rev. Dr. Czeslaw Krysa, with Faith Formation Director, Deacon Dan Mackowiak, has been inviting more and more youth into ministry as servers, "Christ lighters," lectors, and Ministers of Holy Communion. Young and old willingly serve together at Sunday Intergenerational Masses. This Sunday was no different.

Bells of both towers, along with those in the hands of our banner-bearing children rang out as youth walked along with seniors and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus raising a moving song of praise. Parish and guest organists with choir members melded contemporary music with beloved traditional hymns in the two languages of the new parish's faith heritage: English and Polish.

Following Mass, the WNY Superior of the Felician order, Sr. Lorianne Tylczynski, gave a power point presentation to a capacity crowd at the parish Lyceum. She also surprised the pastor with a gratitude gift: an exquisite statue of the new patroness. Societies prepared specialty baked goods, placek, and coffee as a light breakfast, only to be followed by the annual Oktoberfest chicken BBQ and basket raffle fundraiser for Silver Creek and Gowanda flood recovery in the Social Hall.

From The Dunkirk Evening Observer October 24,2009