About ten years ago, Father Anzelm Chalupka, the then Pastor of Corpus Christi Church, had an idea. He wanted to make the church’s celebration of Corpus Christi weekend bigger and better. The Feast of Corpus Christi also represents the namesake for this iconic church in East Buffalo’s Historic Polonia. He wanted to do two things. One, have Corpus Christi Church open forty hours straight for Eucharistic adoration as part celebrating the feast. Two, he wanted to expand the church’s Corpus Christi procession to include the Saint Stanislaus Church community a few blocks away on Peckham Street.
If you are old enough to remember, these type of outdoor Catholic processions were the norm in the community many years ago. But as times changed and old inner city parishes numbers decreased, the processions were scaled down. Anzelm wanted to change that. He approached the Pastor of Saint Stan’s, Bishop Grosz, about doing the Corpus Christi procession between the churches. He agreed. From there, the procession has grown into an event attracting hundreds of people from not only Corpus Christi and Saint Stan’s, but from the larger Western New York Catholic Community.
Manya Pawlak Metzler has been participating in the procession for years now with the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble said, “It’s such an honor to give reverence to the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ in this beautiful procession. Our members take pride in wearing traditional Polish folk costumes and helping carry the large rosary and banner every year because this festival is such a large event in Poland, and it makes us feel connected to our ancestral home as well.”
For as much as the neighborhood has changed in the last fifty years, it continues to be a center for Polish heritage in Buffalo and Western New York. The Corpus Christi procession allows us to keep the traditions our ancestors brought with them from Poland ALIVE. And in a way, it honors the people who built these incredible neighborhood churches over a century ago.