Sunday, May 8, 2022

Our Lady of Hope: melting pot of cultures

Our Lady of Hope Pastroral Associate Ronald Thaler
By Nia Peeples and Zach Williams

            With the continued growth of suburban life, churches located in urban areas have seen a decline in their membership. Even in Buffalo, local churches had been affected. Our Lady of Loretto, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Annunciation merged to form Our Lady of Hope on Sept. 14, 2008.

            “This church, as well as the other two were declining in membership so in order to save the whole thing, they merged the three together so that we could build a better community,” Our Lady of Hope Pastoral Associate Ronald Thaler said.

            Our Lady of Hope, Grant Street at Lafayette Avenue,           is one of the most diverse churches in Buffalo, and Thaler described Our Lady of Hope as a “global community which holds about 16 plus languages.”

“There was a huge influx of Burmese people to the West Side, and they gravitated here by word of mouth, so it was other Burmese people that did it. We did not really evangelize. They were looking for a Catholic church, and they just came to this place.”

With so many different cultures coming together for the service, the church has slowly worked in pieces of the Mass, where invocations are recited in three languages.

            “One would be in Burmese, one would be in Swahili, and one would be in English. It’s not a lot, but it’s just little pieces.” Thaler said. “Since the merger, it has been a slow growth process. We have been trying different things to try to bring the liturgy to the people in such a way that they would hear their own language throughout the worship. It was something we developed over the last few years.”


Ronald Thayer, on incorporating different languages

 into the Mass at Our Lady of Hope:


            The church also has several televisions that are used during the service for those who do not understand the language that is currently being spoken.

            Buffalo Mass Mob is an organization that visits churches all around Buffalo, and Our Lady of Hope hosted the 40th Mass Mob event on Sunday, May 1. This is only the second time there has been a mass mob since the pandemic began.

            “We started in 2013 and noticed a need for a lot of the urban churches to get a boost of attendance and with the boost of attendance comes so many other things,” co-founder of Buffalo Mass Mob, Danielle Murtah, said.

            The mass mob helped fill the pews at Our Lady of Hope during the Sunday service, drawing more attention to these urban churches.

            “This Buffalo Mass Mob came here Sunday to experience this multi-cultural community, but also they are on their journey through Western New York because we have so much great architecture, especially in Churches,” Thaler said.

            Our Lady of Hope held a mass mob four years ago, though due to winter conditions, turnout was not a big as expected.  

            “People come and they leave a donation for the church because they are here, and they want to support these churches in hopes that they stay open,” Thaler said.

Our Lady of Hope now hosts Mass on both Saturday and Sunday, and more information can be found on the church’s website.