St. George’s Roman Catholic Church - History
St. George parish was established on Old Glenwood Road approximately two miles north of West Falls, New York in 1912. The land comprising the present parish was also known as Pine Tree because of an ancient pine tree at the Hayes Stage Coach Inn on Old Glenwood Road. Before the church was built, the Catholic people of West Falls and Jewettville traveled by horse and carriage to share in the mass at Nativity of Our Lord Church in Orchard Park.
In the spring of 1912, after consulting with the Catholics in the locality, Jacob Nuwer approached Father George Crimmins, the pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Church, about the possibility of starting a new parish in Jewettville. Together, they met with Bishop Charles Colton, head of the Buffalo of western New York, who required a petition signed by 50 Catholics from the community. Jacob Newar accomplished this task and permission to build a church was granted. Land on Old Glenwood Road was chosen and generously donated by August Hager and Adrian Metz.
The construction of the original church, now known as the Memorare Chapel, began in August. Thanks to the efforts of many community members, the building was completed in three months. The dedication took place on November 12, 1912, by Bishop Colton to St. George, honoring the patron saint of Father George Crimmins.
Father Michael Tobin was assigned to serve St. George and Our Lady of the Sacred heart Church in Colden. He resided in Colden and commuted by train between the mission churches; celebrating an early Mass at one church and a later Mass at the other on an alternating basis.
The Memorare Chapel of St. George parish stands as a tribute to the friendship and good will of a faith community working together to embrace the future with faith, hope and love.
If you would like to read the recorded history of St. George Parish, click here. (2 MB PDF file, Adobe Reader required)
St. George’s lost Father Huber in July of 1991 when he was killed in a car accident on his way from the church to a parish picnic. His sudden loss was keenly felt.
In his wake, Father Peter Drilling was appointed as our new pastor. As well as being in charge of St. George’s, he was a professor at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora and with it a a spirit of cooperation between St George’s and the Seminary blossomed. Priests from the Seminary celebrated Mass at St. George as well as bringing Seminarians to practice with real audiences. Holy Thursday services were often a combined effort held at the Seminary.
In 1993, under Fr Drilling’s guidance, a small group initiated a twinning project with St. Michael the Archangel parish in Haiti. The Haiti project grew and prospered over the years. Parishioners donate medical and educational supplies, as well as sending teams of doctors, dentists and other medical people to help the Haitian parishioners in improving their quality of life. Frank Lewandowski leads the Haiti Project today.
Father Drilling served our parish until 1995. He left to take a sabbatical and concentrate on writing his book on the Trinity. Father Hansen a retired Colonel Army Chaplin, was called out of retirement in Florida to take on the responsibility of St George’s by the Bishop of Buffalo. Father Hansen was an in-residence pastor who brought along with him, Father Jim, a retired priest who stayed at the rectory and assisted in Masses and other duties. Seemingly very different men, they worked together quite seamlessly to the benefit of the entire congregation. Father Jim was an avid gardener, and made sure all the surrounding property was full of plants and flowers. Father Hansen can be credited with donating the blue ceramic wine goblets we use for communion each week. In 1999, Father Hansen retired again to Florida. Sadly, with his departure, we also lost Father Jim who did not feel he could stay without his friend.
Father David Zwifka was assigned to our parish and led us for a brief period until 2000, simultaneously teaching at the Seminary. Although with us a brief time, Father Zwifka touched many members of the congregation who remember him fondly.
Father Walter Szczesny became our new pastor and with him our congregation grew when many parishioners from his previous parish in Hamburg chose to follow him to West Falls. Fr. Walt also served double duty as our pastor and as a teacher at Christ the King Seminar. But, he always had time when somebody needed him. In the fall of 2008, the Bishop appointed Fr. Walt to the Head of Vocations for the Diocese of Buffalo.
The “St George’s” signs you see around West Falls were all made for the parish by the late Gene Wolf, a long time parishioner and former owner of a sign shop.
Debbie Stellrecht is the current parish secretary. Before Debbie, Ellen Peters and Doris Ellis served in the role for many years and both still assist when needed. Have you ever wondered how the broken pews are fixed or who replaces the candles in the churches? Chuck and Rosie! Chuck Schneider handles the maintenance of the church properties while Rosie Wagner diligently oversees the interiors of the Chapel and Church. You will often see Chuck Schneider doing maintenance around the parish, and Rosie Wagner has and still does diligently oversee the interior of the churches.
If you have additional updates to our history, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. George Church, 2010