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Vigil held in memory of Father Joe

Mike Desmond/wbfo

Hundreds of people were in Saint Lawrence Church on Buffalo's East Side Sunday night for a memorial vigil for a much-loved priest who apparently committed suicide Saturday afternoon.

An autopsy will be held today for Father Joseph Moreno,"Father Joe" to large number of people, and a funeral later this week, likely in a church far larger than Saint Lawrence because of anticipated crowds.

The priest was found dead on Saturday by Co-Pastoral Administrator Paul Weisenburger with an apparent gunshot wound when Moreno failed to appear for a scheduled Mass.

During the vigil Sunday night, there was prayer and music and candles and balloons as people remembered the priest who had helped so many.

"He never said no," said one man, Rick, who attended the vigil with his wife and children.

"You asked him for anything, to make time for you, anything whatsoever. It was an immediate yes, and he would get it done as soon as possible."

Father Joe knew prominent people also, drawing support for many charitable activities from Yankees baseball star Derek Jeter and television star Jay Leno.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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