thing, however, is very clear up front. We have to be extremely
diligent to prevent any sign of bias or bigotry against people of
Yemenite ancestry. As we did last year in the immediate aftermath of
"9/11," so again this year we have been speaking out against bigotry
aimed at Muslims, Arabs, Arab-Americans, and now with specific concern
The Yemenite people in Lackawanna have
distinguished themselves for hard work and strong family bonds. They
work in Catholic social service agencies and Catholic health care
institutions. The wonderful Yemenite children attend Catholic schools.
Father Peter Drilling, Pastor of Saint Anthony's Parish in Lackawanna
and esteemed professor at Christ the King Seminary, has established fine
relationships, formally and informally, with the Yemenite people, who
live in immediate proximity to the church.
We should note here
also that in recent years, Catholic-Muslim dialogues have been
increasing in our Diocese both in number and in significant content.
tragic paradox is unfolding here. Representatives of the media from all
over the United States and various parts of the world have descended on
Lackawanna to identify the city with terrorism. Who would have imagined
it? Lackawanna, the City of Charity!
do hope the media will take a closer look at Lackawanna. Find out why
it is called the City of Charity. Western New York knows the story. It
is the story of Father Nelson Baker, and the story goes on. It deserves
national and international attention.
Ordained on the feast of St.
Joseph, March 19, 1876, Father Baker served 59 of his 60 years as a
priest in Lackawanna, until he died at the age of 95 on July 29, 1936.
He was the leader whose inspiration and indefatigable work, in God's
grace, brought about and developed the institutions of charity that have
been the pride of Lackawanna for generations and, we pray, will
continue for generations yet to be.
The list is staggering: St.
Joseph's Orphan Asylum, St. John's Protectory, Our Lady of Victory
Infant Home (which continues to care for the most physically handicapped
people in the country), two missions, two homes for working girls, a
home for working boys, trade schools, a farm, Our Lady of Victory
Hospital, an elementary school, a high school, and finally Our Lady of
Victory Basilica which he began in 1921 at the age of 80 and completed
in 1926, with all the bills paid at the time it was finished.
course the story is not merely one about institutions. It is the story
of Father Baker's personal charity and concern for countless people of
all ages. It is a story of sanctity, and we pray that his hoped for
canonization some day will bring that story of inspiration and
edification all over the world.
For now we are grateful that the
inspiration and the works are here. Naturally changes have been made.
Father Baker made many changes in his own time to meet changing needs
and to adapt to new circumstances. Baker-Victory Services continue to
expand and provide state-of-the-art help to so many people in serious
need. Our Lady of Victory Basilica remains a magnificent shrine
encouraging holiness in pilgrims coming from near and far. Pastoral,
educational, and health services continue to thrive under the patronage
of Our Lady of Victory, and under the enlightened leadership of
Monsignor Robert Wurtz, Pastor of the parish, and all his colleagues.
story radiates through the other six Catholic parishes of Lackawanna
and throughout Western New York. The Catholic Charities' agency in the
middle of the Yemenite neighborhood is one of 62 Catholic Charities
agencies spread throughout the eight counties of Western New York. The
people of Western New York respond with generosity that is an example
for the world. The Catholic Charities Appeal this past year showed a
total contribution of $10,760,000. Given the size of the population of
our diocese, that is a goal for any diocese in the country devoutly to
Fortunately the story of generosity is a story that
applies to Western New Yorkers generally. When people here know the
need, they respond, and do so with admirable benevolence. Time after
time, need after need.
Whatever be the story of terrorist links,
we pray it will be uncovered completely and properly addressed, for the
safety of the world.
It would be helpful, also, if the larger
story of Lackawanna, the City of Charity, were told at the same time,
for the inspiration of the world.
Most Rev. Henry J. Mansell
Bishop of Buffalo
September 24, 2002