St. Agnes - Table of Contents
History - St. Agnes RC Church
194 Ludington at Benzinger (NW), Buffalo, NY
By Gregory Witul
Before 1883 the German community Lovejoy area had to travel to St. Ann on Broadway to have their religious needs fulfilled. To rectify this problem Rev. Otto Hogenforst of St. Annās church was asked by the Bishop to take up a census to see if a new pairsh was sustainable in Lovejoy. Rev. Paul Hoelscher completed the census and found more than enough families for a new parish.
On December 9, 1883 the new wood frame church of St. Agnes was dedicated and a Mass was held by the Bishop.
In the summer of 1884 Rev. Charles Schaus became the first resident priest of the church. Under Rev. Schausās guidance St. Agnes established a school, built a convent for the nuns and a rectory for the priest and assistants. The parish also expanded in size with a growing English speaking community developing Lovejoy.
In 1893 Rev. Joseph Fischer became pastor after Rev. Schaus was moved to St. Francis Xavier. In 1898 Visitation church was established out of St. Agnes to see to the needs of the English speaking Catholics of the area. Even with the relief of Visitation it was nessesery for St. Agnes to expand.
In 1904 Rev. Fischer hired the architectural firm of Esenwein & Johnson to design a new church building. The church took just over a year to build and was dedicated on December 3, 1905.
By 1908 the Italian population of Lovejoy had been growing at a rapid rate. Rev. Fischer seeing the need of this growing congregation petitioned for an Italian parish to be established near St. Agnes. From his works St. Francis of Assisi was formed on North Ogden. In 1916 Rev. John Kiefer became pastor. During his tenure the church was decorated and stained glass windows were installed.
As the Second World War ended, the German population around St. Agnes was leaving the area and being replaced with more Italians moving into the region. Because if this change in demographics, St. Agnes started focusing on meeting the needs of it Italian congregation. As the Catholic Church changed, so too did St. Agnes. In keeping with the changes of Vatican II the church was repainted and redecorated. This new look would only last until the 1980ās when the church was simplified and almost all the paintings were removed.
In 2007 the Catholic Dioceses "Journey in Faith and Grace" reconfigured the three churches in Lovejoy and centered religious activity at St. Francis of Assisi. The last mass at St. Agnes was held on October 21, 2007. Although St. Agnes is no longer a Catholic Church, it is still an important religious location. In 2009 the International Sangha Bhiksu Buddhist Association purchased St. Agnes and Visitation Church and plan to make them in to meditation centers.
The Esenwein & Johnson designed church is one of only a handful of houses of worship executed by the firm. The German-influenced Romanesque revival structure was built from 1904 to 1905. The red brick church is 150 feet long with a 52 foot wide nave. The transept is 82 feet wide. This large space had space for a seating of 840 people.
The stained glass windows of St. Agnes were done by Otto F. Andrle of Buffalo NY. The set of windows were installed between 1919 and 1921. The total cost of the glass was $11,206. Each window is signed "O. F. Andrle, Buffalo NY."
The murals commissioned by Rev. Kiefer for the church were done by D'Arcangelo Studios of Buffalo, NY. A total of six murals were executed, The Shrine of the Sacred Heat, The Death of St. Joseph, The Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Fourteen Holy Helpers, Our Lady of Lourdes and The Wise and Foolish Virgins. The only painting to survive the simplification was The Wise and Foolish Virgins.