Saturday, October 18, 2008

Disappearing acts

Today I saw the paper and couldn't believe my eyes. Honestly, today feels magical. It feels like Christmas.

This parish down in Georgia wants to pack up and move St. Gerard's Church! They want to take it apart and move it from Buffalo to this town near Atlanta. It would be home to this new parish called Mary Our Queen, with 700 families.

We could not have dreamed this up! It is like something out of the Brothers Grimm. I think it is the answer to my prayers. Believe me, I have been praying for Gerard's. There was absolutely nothing else I could do.

Some preservationists, people I admire, are against this move. But I will say right now I am all for it. I say, get Gerard's in the bag, in the cart, out the door. Its fate here is hopeless. Did any parish in Amherst want to move Gerard's out there? No! Did anyone from St. Gregory the Huge say, "Look, our church is really ugly stupid cheap modern architecture with no windows, so why don't we save this beautiful, unique basilica-like 1911 church modeled after St. -Paul's-Outside-The-Walls?" No! Did citizens of all faiths rise up in protest that this masterpiece, built by German and Italian immigrants and artists, was being left to rot, with its windows cracked and its roof leaking? No!

I will miss Gerard's. Historically, it was not my family's church, but we all kind of adopted it. Howard and I were married there almost four years ago, standing beneath that fresco with its canopy of stars. So were my brother George and sister-in-law Natalie. My little niece Barbara was baptized there. I will miss the church looming over Bailey Avenue, so absurdly magnificent in that bleak neighborhood. But I have been so anguished over its future. I have been dreading seeing it stripped, seeing those lovely statues and paintings sold off. There is that beautiful, sorrowing Pieta that I prayed in front of so many times. I worried about where that would end up, in some restaurant or in somebody's living room. I love the idea of Gerard's staying a Catholic church, being left intact with all its statues and paintings, and serving a community that clearly cares about art and heritage more than the schufts up here do. Godspeed, Gerard's! I will come down to Georgia and visit you.

No one had better throw a wrench into this plan, now. Everyone just get out of the way. Let this plan roll forward. As Big Joe Turner said: "Let it roll like a big wheel, in a Georgia cottonfield!" Big Joe Turner said that on a record before singing "Honey Hush."

Wow, I am feeling good. All this has really cheered me up.

I am loving the comments over the last few days. My sister Margie wrote in about the Mountain Valley Inn. Margie, yes, that was the inn where they had the St. Bernard named Yucca who jumped all over George. I almost wrote that but Yucca's warm, fuzzy presence didn't exactly help the ghost story I was telling. I am not sure in retrospect if the place was the Mountain Valley or the Mountain Vale. Anyone out there know anything about ghostly Vermont motels?

Then there was also touching tributes to my friend Harry Taub from a former student of his, and also from Ward. I wonder who that former student is. He writes that he is a conductor. Ward, those words from Shakespeare made me cry.

Finally, Jennifer did research on Peter Piccolo. Jennifer, what an awful story about what happened to him! The Mafia, ugh. I cannot even stand to watch Mafia movies. Leonard Pennario and I used to talk about that. Being Sicilian he had his own reasons to resent movies about the Mafia. I did not have to tell him about Peter Piccolo.

Now here is our daily October brush with the supernatural. Well, we have already had a couple of those today!

This is something Mason Winfield told me. Remember, we talked about him last week. This is especially useful because it is something that can entertain you as you go about your everday life.

Mason told me that sometimes there are people who might be walking around looking as ordinary as anyone else and suddenly they just disappear. They are not real people. They are apparitions. He says we do not notice these disappearances because we are just not looking at these folks at the right second, at the second they melt away into thin air.

Doesn't that give you the shivers? I have found that this knowledge that Mason passed on to me comes in handy when I am bored somewhere, stuck standing in line, or in traffic, or something. You can look around at all the people around you and keep tabs on them and see if anyone disappears. So far I have entertained myself like this on a number of occasions, once for a good 15-minute stretch at M&T Bank downtown. I admit, I have never seen anyone disappear.

But surely it is only a matter of time.


Pauldub said...

To St. Gerards -
God bless and Godspeed. Even in Georgia it will serve its original purpose.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I'm glad that we are in total agreement about St. Gerard's. In New England, there was a very famous old organ in a church that had closed. It was sold to a church in Germany and the history types in New England were in an uproar. The German church carefully restored it, built a case to put it in (it had been installed in a chamber in the wall originally), and it is now in steady use in a building far better for organ sound than its original home. So, things like this can be done. Let's hope this project is carried out as planned.

Buffalo was given so many wonderful treasures over the years, and the distruction, abandonment and squandering of so much of it is to Buffalo's everlasting shame.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I'll go down to Georgia and visit it with you. We can make a long weekend out of it with Katie!

Anonymous said...

I was raised in that parish in a different time when the neighborhood was vibrant. Went to school there. My great uncle and granddad painted the scenes above the altar. I will miss the church, and that wonderful time in Buffalo's history.

Jayna said...

I know this is a rather old post, but you mentioned it quite recently on Fr. Z's blog, and since I am familiar with the parish in Georgia, I felt compelled to comment. Fr. Dye is a wonderful priest who actually offers a Mass in French once a month (gives me the chance to practice!). Assuming the plan goes through, and Mary Our Queen is still operating under that assumption, it will have a good home here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Jayna, you are down in Georgia? That was so nice of you to comment! If you happen to read this and have any news about how the move is going, please keep us posted!