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Immaculate Conception Church to Close, Will Merge with Holy Cross

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – A West Side Catholic church is closing. The Diocese of Buffalo announced yesterday that Immaculate Conception Church on Edward Street near Elmwood will merge with the nearby Holy Cross Parish.

Immaculate Conception Church was founded in 1849. The current church building is 105 years old. But Parish Administrator Msgr. David Gallivan says the church was literally falling apart. He says during a torrential rainstorm last July 4th, about 50 pounds of concrete came crashing down.

Gallivan says repairs would have exceeded $830,000 and neither the parish nor the diocese has the financial resources for that. Immaculate Conception has 250 registered families -- about 120 of them are active. Gallivan said they're understandably disappointed.

"I can only judge by the kinds of meetings we've had lately. There's anger, but it's not focuses at anybody," Gallivan said. "I don't feel it. I don't think the Bishop is the target. I think it's a situation of why is this happening to us."

Gallivan said Immaculate Conception and Holy Cross, where he serves as pastor, have already shared social and spiritual activities. They'll officially merge on July 31st.

This marks the first church closing since Bishop Edward Kmiec was installed last October. Gallivan said Kmiec is resigned to the fact that there are likely to be more.

"He mentioned that he knows this is difficult," Gallivan said. "The priests are anxious. None of us likes to be left hanging in the wind. We want to do pastoral work, not maintenance."

No decision has been made on the disposition of the church building and rectory. The church closing does not affect an adjacent school building that is currently leased by the Buffalo Public School District.