Consider this…What can’t you live without?

Consider this…What can’t you live without?

Consider this… What can’t you live without?

Congratulations to our young people who are continuing to receive their First Holy Communion. I am always inspired by our families journeying together, bringing their children to Jesus. I hope that inspires you too.

This past week I was asked the question; ‘What spiritual practice do you do every day that you can’t live without?’ This really caused me to do some thinking. The person asking me this question shared that if I couldn’t answer the question, then do I really have a relationship with Jesus. I have to admit, it took me some time to determine my answer. Certainly I pray every day, I pray the prayer of the church, known as the office, I do my best to say a rosary every day, I spend time in meditation each morning, I celebrate Mass, pray privately each night and do spiritual reading, when I can. But what of my prayer life couldn’t I live without?

I think this is a great question for all of us. What spiritual prayer/practice in our life can’t we live without?

As I mentioned last week, St. Mary’s is more than just a ‘place to go to mass’, we need to invest in our parish because this is where Jesus is present and calls us into community. Christ is revealed in our community of faith. It is here that Jesus shepherds us and guides us so that we can have our ‘best life’ possible! Investing in St. Mary’s is a way to enhance our relationship with Jesus because of our encounter with him when we gather here. Is the encounter central to our life with Jesus?

My answer to the question posed was the celebration of the Eucharist. At times different parts of the Mass strike, challenge, root and comfort me. I find my life filled with hope whenever I celebrate mass.  But for the fullness of that experience I need the community of St. Mary’s to help me. Our celebration of mass makes the fullness of Jesus revealed when the people gather, in the sharing of sacred scripture, in the priest celebrating and in the breaking of the bread. (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum concillium #7) Therefore your participation helps me, and I pray that my celebration of mass helps you. We are in it together! So, by extension I can’t live without you!

What can’t you spiritually live without? I pray at least some of your answer is St. Mary’s. May we together invest in each other so we can build God’s kingdom.


Keep smiling,:-)

Fr. Bryan


St. Mary’s Family Faith Director Announces Retirement After 30 years

St. Mary’s Family Faith Director Announces Retirement After 30 years

St. Mary’s Family Faith Director Announces Retirement After 30 years


Karen Smaczniak announced her retirement in February of 2021 after thirty years with St. Mary’s as the Director of Family Faith.

It was 1988 when she started working here at St. Mary’s while she was a mom at home with her two young children, a three year old and one year old. Looking for something to do part time outside of the house, and holding a college degree in speech pathology and audiology, led her to a position at St. Mary’s teaching her Catholic faith to high school students. Monsignor Vincent J. Becker, Pastor of St. Mary’s at that time, asked Karen to then be a family faith liaison along with a high school student from our program to the newly formed Parish Council at St. Mary Swormville.

In 1991, Karen was asked to become the Sacrament Coordinator in preparing children for 1st Reconciliation and 1st Eucharist, along with coordinating the younger grade levels for St. Mary’s. She remembers starting in this position and feeling that the program wasn’t quite supporting children and parents in the formation of their faith.

Sacraments were instructed in a classroom setting at this time by grade.  Karen recognized that this type of faith formation of young children many times didn’t meet them were they were on their faith journey. Older children who may have needed to prepare for a Sacrament would then need to be in a classroom setting with younger children being instructed. She remembers also feeling that Sacrament preparation left the “FAMILY” out of the equation in the faith formation of their children.

This prompted her to rethink and propose a new way of teaching our faith to our youth starting with Sacrament preparation– getting the instruction out of the hands of faith formation teachers and into the hands of parents!  As this would have been something very progressive for that time, the Parochial Vicar of St. Mary’s Rev. Robert Gebhard, asked her to present the concept to Parish Council.  He asked her for a full theological reflection to be presented along with the concept.

This new concept of Sacrament preparation, started the following year after her presentation, in 1992, and has stayed in this teaching format ever since! This model has since led to the current faith formation program where parents are the primary faith teachers, giving children and families the options to meet children where they are on their faith journey and has proved over time to be a very successful program.

At first, the new program format was met with resistance because teaching faith was always something that the Church was responsible for. Parents did not feel equipped or confident to teach their children about their faith. So the program needed as well to focus on teaching knowledge and the skill set to parents to be successful.

We asked Karen a few questions always about her long career at St. Mary’s:

What are you most proud of in your many accomplishments here?

“In 30 years, I am most proud of being able to help parents feel empowered in their faith so they can pass their faith onto their children. We give them the skill set, the tools, the resources, and we help them with their role as parents in teaching their children.  This ultimately helps families take ownership of teaching faith, and it builds up the strength of the family household in Christ.”

What will your biggest memory be after all these years?

“In 30 years, I have had the pleasure of working with so many people in so many different roles in building up the faith of our youth and the family.  I’ve worked with catechists, parents, children of all ages, 4 pastors, and the program was able to bear fruit despite some challenges along the way.  I took my job seriously, because I am a mom, and I felt that strong connection to families.” She has kept this bible verse on her computer screen for many years:

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Peter 4:11

The St. Mary’s Faith Formation Department has grown and has had so much success with this format that Karen created, that they now use this program in other parishes in and outside of Buffalo.  Due to its unique program design, St. Mary’s and these sister parishes were able to continue their faith formation programs throughout the Covid shutdowns. Many parishes still utilize the older classroom teaching method and have not been able to meet nor instruct children in their faith during this time.

Dear Karen, from all of us here at St. Mary’s, we are deeply grateful to you for all that you have done to bring our children and our families to knowing and loving Christ. We wish you all the best of joy, health, and peace as you retire and now spend time with your family and grandchildren!  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.



Consider this… Are You Invested? 4/18/21

Consider this… Are You Invested? 4/18/21

Consider this… Are you invested?

Christ is Risen!

Last weekend was a glorious weekend as we began our First Eucharist celebrations in the parish. Throughout the Easter Season, our young people who are prepared to receive Jesus will join us at mass with their families and receive the second sacrament of initiation, Eucharist. This should bring all of us hope and joy!

Last weekend we also celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation at two extra Sunday liturgies in which Bishop Mike bestowed the Holy Spirit on 95 young adults. I am so proud of our young adults as they completed the sacraments of initiation by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. They were awesome celebrations and the Holy Spirit is alive and well at St. Mary’s.

With so many ways in which we are seeing the Risen Jesus at work, and the Holy Spirit guiding us, what have we to fear? The Gospel this weekend reminds all of us that not only do we need to trust what Jesus intends for us, but we then have to act upon it. Believe in ourselves the way that Jesus believes in us! We are destined for greatness!!!

This does give us something to think about. Ask yourself this question: Is St. Mary’s the place I go to mass, or is St. Mary’s my community of faith? As we move through the Easter season we hear over and over that the disciples were a community of faith. We are also supposed to participate in our parish as a community of faith. If St. Mary’s is simply the ‘place I go to mass’, then we’re not invested in the community. To be a part of this community means that we respond, we support, we sacrifice at times for the betterment of the community.

Are you invested in St. Mary’s? Some questions to help you formulate your answer.

1.     When was the last time you were at St. Mary’s besides mass? What for?

2.    What was the last educational thing you took advantage of at St. Mary’s?

3.   What was the last fundraiser that you assisted with at St. Mary’s?

4.   How have you shared the mission of St. Mary’s in your life and work?

5.    Have you contributed to the work and mission of St. Mary’s?

Our parish records show that less than 50% of people who attend St. Mary’s are actually investing in St. Mary’s with their time, talent and treasure. Our Easter Gospels are challenging all of us to invest, be part of the community of faith, because that is where we find the Risen Jesus alive and at work, with the Holy Spirit guiding us.

I invite you, don’t just make St. Mary’s the place to ‘attend mass’, but make it your community of faith so we can grow together. I promise you, investing in St. Mary’s will only lead to great rewards!

Keep Smiling, smile

Fr. Bryan

Bells Ring Again in Chapel for the First Time in Many Years!

Bells Ring Again in Chapel for the First Time in Many Years!

Bells Ring Again in Chapel for the First Time in Many Years!

The St. Mary’s Chapel Bells rang again for the first time in many years on Easter Sunday after a special Restoration Project Fundraiser that collected over 30,000 from parishioners who donated towards this beautiful project. Thank you to all who donated!

The Bell Project was quite extensive as there were many components needing repair in order to get them fully operational and ringing on a timer at  pre-selected times throughout the day.

The St. Mary’s family really came together on this project that brings back a part of our 17 1 year old history of calling others to Christ. “The bells are a a sign of the restoration to come,” says Father Bryan. ” They remind us of our past and ready us for our future.”

The next time you are on the St. Mary’s Campus, stop by and listen for the bells. They bring a smile to all who hear them!

St. Mary’s will ring the bells on a daily basis:

15 minutes before every mass calling people to worship.
At the start of every mass.
At Noon and 6 p.m. for the Angelus prayer.
At 9 p.m. to remind us to pray before bed- our night prayers.
And the bell strikes each hour from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.





Welcome 2.0 Christ Renews His Parish Retreats News

Welcome 2.0 Christ Renews His Parish Retreats News

Welcome 2.0 Christ Renews His Parish Retreats News

April, 9, 2021


Happy Spring to All!


The Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP Welcome 2.0) Continuation Committee would like you to know that we are actively preparing for the next Men’s and Women’s retreats. 

The 2020 retreats were put on hold due to the COVID pandemic. The committee has been in close communication with the parish COVID Task Force, Fr. Luke and Fr. Bryan to assess the viability of holding the retreats while respecting the restrictions that are in place. The safety and welfare of all retreat participants is the utmost factor in determining when we can gather together.

Our current expectation is that the retreats will be able to resume in the late Fall or early next year in 2022. We will continue to assess and respond to changing conditions and will communicate to the parish as things change/evolve. We are looking forward to sharing this life-changing experience with you and are praying that we will be able to conduct the retreats as soon as possible.


The Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP Welcome 2.0) Continuation Committee