St. Joseph’s Church members feel ‘voices heard’ after meeting with bishop

Photos courtesy of Diocese of Buffalo: Members of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lyndonville carry a crucifix and Book of Gospels into St. Mary’s Catholic Church for Mass on Sunday. The cross and book were rescued from a fire on Feb. 28.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 March 2023 at 8:55 am

LYNDONVILLE – Less than a week after a fire destroyed the back end of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lyndonville, and damaged much of the interior, church members feel assured they will have input on the future of the church at 36 Lake Ave.

Bishop Michael Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo met with church members for about a half hour after Mass on Sunday at St. Mary’s in Medina. The bishop then travelled to Lyndonville to see St. Joseph’s with his own eyes.

Photo courtesy of Chris Busch: The burnt crucifix from St. Joseph’s was set at the side altar of St. Mary’s in Medina for Mass last Sunday.

“He is a very receptive bishop,” said Gary Daum, a member of St. Joseph’s for nearly 50 years. “We’re glad that he came here.”

The Diocese continues to assess the damage to the building from the fire, which is “quite extensive,” said Joe Martone, communications director for the Diocese.

Assessors from the Diocese are determining the full scope of the damage, he said.

Daum said St. Joseph’s members were told they would have a say in the next steps for the church.

“As parishioners, will we have a seat at the table about the future of this church site,” Daum said.

Daum appreciated the show of solidarity from the bishop and also the St. Mary’s parishioners in Medina. The bishop stayed after the Mass at St. Mary’s to meet with the parishioners from St. Joseph’s.

“He talked with anybody and anyone,” Daum said. “Everybody had a chance to have their voices heard.”

At St. Joseph’s in Lyndonville, Daum said he felt more encouraged about the future of the church building than he did soon after the fire. The main structure and sanctuary are intact, and the side of the church and an elevator are OK, he said.

“Yes, it is a mess,” he said. “The bishop said he has seen churches burnt worse than ours.”

While the bishop looked inside the church, St. Joseph’s members stayed outside and prayed, saying the rosary.

The church attendance was down in recent years, partly from the effects of Covid pandemic restrictions. Daum said about 20 people were attending Mass on Saturdays and 25 on Sundays. The church still has a dedicated core of believers.

“Right at this moment we don’t exactly know what the future holds,” Daum said. “There is no statement on where we are going. But at least we know we are being listened to.”

This group from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church says the Rosary outside the church in Lyndonville while Bishop Michael Fisher visits the church on Sunday afternoon after a Mass at St. Mary’s in Medina.