It was built and opened in 1886 by German immigrants but closed five years ago as one of many mergers by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The group Friends of St. Ann Church and Shrine are urging diocesan leaders to reopen a church they say would be a good fit in a redeveloping Buffalo neighborhood.
Members of the small but dedicated group gathered inside Saints Columba and Brigid parish on Hickory Street in Buffalo, which received former members of the St. Ann parish when the latter closed in 2013. They offered a presentation, discussed the heritage of St. Ann's Church and then prayed it might have a future.
Ron Bates of Friends of St. Ann explained that as they were gathered inside the church, their pastor was meeting with diocesan officials hoping to learn more about the fate of St. Ann's.
He suggests with the city and developers eyeing new projects in the Broadway neighborhood, it makes sense to reopen the shuttered church to be part of a revitalized neighborhood.
"There is activity. And if there are people looking, you've got a good chance people will be doing something," he said. "Along Broadway, there are plans for several building to be converted into housing, et cetera."
He argues that the church's presence along a major bus route and its proximity to downtown make it a logical asset to reopen.
But speaking of assets, Bates admitted concern for the possibility the church building might be among those sold as part of a newly-announced compensation program for past victims of sexual abuse by priests within the Diocese of Buffalo. When Bishop Richard Malone addressed how the program would be funded, he suggested it could include proceeds from the sales of diocesan properties.
Bates contends selling St. Ann's would not be worth the return.
"The price that was advertised is $100,000. I'm not making light of a hundred thousand dollars but that is not going to solve all the difficulties with all the sexual matters," he said. "That's just not going to do it."