SALAMANCA — The Our Lady of Peace Catholic Parish on Broad Street honored the milestones of two of its officiants Sunday with a small celebration in the parish center.
The Rev. Fr. Mariusz Sierhart celebrated 15 years of being ordained a priest earlier in May, and Deacon Michael Anderson will celebrate 20 years of being a deacon later in June.
During the after-Mass breakfast in the parish center, Sue Labuhn, member of the Altar and Rosary Society, said they didn’t want either of the church’s “wonderful pillars to go unnoticed.”
In his 20 years as Deacon in Salamanca, Labuhn said Anderson has been the glue holding the parish together through all its changes. During that time frame, there have been five priests and the closure of two churches, one in Salamanca and the other in Limestone.
“Even for parishioners going through difficult times, whether it’s a family crisis of some sort or just having an ear to listen to, Michael’s expertise in his previous life of working has been an asset to our community,” she said. Anderson was a social worker in the area for many years.
“I would have just assumed let this day pass by and not worry about it,” he said humbly.
While he may have been the glue, Anderson said there still had to be pieces to hold together.
“That’s all of you,” he said. “All of you who have been wonderfully supportive and helpful. You are the parish. I’m just a part of it.”
The parish also recognized Anderson’s wife, Gretchen, for her contributions and sacrifices over the past 20 years as well.
“Whenever Michael is called upon to do something, Gretchen is there,” Labuhn said. “If Michael has to run up to Buffalo, she’s here finishing up and carrying on.”
The Andersons’ daughter Jennifer said her dad had to get his wife’s permission first before he could be the parish’s deacon, which garnered a large laugh from the parishioners.
“He may be the head of the family, but she is the neck,” Rev. Sierhart added, gaining another laugh.
Anderson said he was thankful to have Rev. Sierhart as a part of the parish now and remaining in the priesthood for so many years.
During a party years ago recognizing a former pastor’s 25 years in service, Anderson recalled the priest saying, “What’s the big deal? All I had to do was keep breathing.”
“Well, considering the number of priests who have left for one reason or another, it’s great that we have a priest who has stayed faithful to our faith and to his vows for 15 years,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll be another 50.”
(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at firstname.lastname@example.org)