Jan. 5, 2023 – Fr. Fred Betti, SJ, associate pastor at St. Michael’s Church in Buffalo and chaplain of the Response to Love Center, has shared a reflection about how the people of St. Michael’s came together during the recent blizzard.
On Friday morning, December 23rd, as parishioners were concluding their prayers after our 6:45 AM Mass the driving rains outside suddenly turned into snow and strong winds. The Christmas Blizzard of 2022 had begun.
Western New York would be paralyzed by the storm for the next six days. As some parishioners dashed for their cars or walked quickly to the safety of their offices, I began preparing bagels and coffee for the homeless who spend their day in our church until they can return to the shelters for a meal or a place to sleep at night. It was clear by mid-morning that the storm was intensifying with 60 mph winds and relentless icy snow.
Our Jesuit community decided that we would remain open and offer the church as a shelter and warming station for those in need. In turn our local neighbors and even the homeless helped us each day to try to keep our doorways shoveled and open despite the seven-foot snow drifts that buried our buildings and vehicles.
Another challenge of the blizzard was securing our giant stained-glass windows from the high winds. Fr. Rich Zanoni, SJ, and I spent quite a bit of time on ladders bracing the latches from bursting open. We were blessed to have heat and power throughout the storm but temps in such leaky old buildings suffered.
We continued to prepare the church for our Christmas celebrations and our Jesuit community concelebrated a joyful Christmas Eve Mass on our live stream system with Pastor Ben Fiore
Guiding our cameras. Three of our parishioners walked through the storm to provide music and vocals during the liturgy. Over three hundred families joined us online as well.
Our Jesuit community had a great spirit of support as we cared for our buildings, our parishioners and for our own needs such as cooking and sharing meals, prayer and Masses.