Church Roots – The 90’s and 2000’s

St. Patrick’s entered the 90’s with a lot of changes looming.  A new rector was on the horizon in the form of Reverend Otis Hovencamp.  Father Otis brought his family of 5 to the rectory in 1991.  There were a lot of changes to endure, mostly a younger priest and a family with 3 children.  Father Otis’ wife Maxine was engrossed in the choir in no time at all and their children, Sarah, Matthew and Mark were all drafted as acolytes very soon after their arrival.

The Hovencamp’s were with us through what many call the “mass exodus” when many of the more active members and families left St. Patrick’s for seemingly greener pastures.  There were times when a lot of us thought the doors to this parish would close forever, but we have remained strong and steadfast, if a bit small. 

Father Hovencamp announced his partial retirement in 1998 and his intention to leave us for St. Mark’s in North Tonawanda, and we again were challenged to find a new spiritual leader for St. Patrick’s.  When the then Bishop, David Bowman, was apprised of the situation, he suggested the use of an Interim priest during the search.  He also held over the vestry members that should have been leaving office at that time, so that a cohesive unit was maintained in the leadership.  This was especially critical due to the fact that Bishop Bowman was also leaving, as he was retiring as of December 31, 1998. 

St. Patrick’s truly experienced a female rector for the first time when Susan Anslow-Williams arrived as interim rector in 1999.  Susan opened up many doors to us within the diocese.  She also helped the Vestry to learn to manage on it’s own in the absence of a rector.  When Susan and her husband Eric accepted a call to St. Luke’s in Jamestown, she handed a very capable Vestry into the hands of Father William Webb.  Will was with St. Patrick’s for approximately 6 months when Reverend Carmen Seufert accepted the call to be the next rector for St. Patrick’s beginning October 2000. 

Carol Garrison, Bishop Michael’s wife, in the summer of 2000 made us aware of a 3 year old little girl in Honduras who deperately needed heart surgery to live.  The surgeon graciously donated his services, but the hospital would not.  St. Patrick’s responded with generosity, challenging other churches in the diocese, and raised more than enough money to cover the hospital costs. Today little Stephanie is a thriving, beautiful 10 year old.  Her picture is in Hannah Hall for those who would like to see for themselves the good we did as a parish.

Carmen was with St. Patrick’s as part time clergy until she accepted a call to the Diocese of Rochester to be the Rector of Northeast Partners in Episcopal Ministry for three churches, in November 2004. 

During Reverend Seufert’s time with us, we truly thought “outside the box” when St. Patrick’s put forth the idea to have an “Episcopalian Lawn Fete”.  The first Family Fun Fest was organized and brought to fruition in September 2003 by the hard work of many hands.  We decided a non-alcoholic event was called for to make the event truly a Family Affair. Although the first year we experienced a small financial loss, it by no means discouraged anyone from trying it again.  The Family Fun Fest in 2004 made a very small amount of money, but we decided to test the “Third Time’s a Charm” notion and tried once more.  In 2005 we held what was touted as the First Annual Flamingo Fest, with a Flamingo Walk, to benefit Breast Cancer Research, in July.  That effort did result in proceeds for both Roswell Park Cancer Institute and St. Patrick’s. 

A Columbarium, a place of perpetual storage for cremains, was purchased and installed behind the altar during Holy Week in 2004.  The unit is beautifully designed and has since been surrounded by a handmade oak wall unit.  Currently there are 4 sets of cremains entombed in the Columbarium and many niches remain available for purchase.

Carmen’s leaving found us without a “regular” priest for over a year.  We saw a great many supply priests during 2005, including the Reverends Linda Malia, Charles Deacon, John Russell, and Phillip Holmes.  All of the Priests and Deacons who served us in 2005 brought their own style to St. Patrick’s but also made every effort not to change things.  The Vestry became very focused in keeping things on an even keel during our time without a “permanent” priest.  Dealing with the hard issues became easier as time went on, due to the positive attitudes of the Vestry and their cohesiveness.  They became a well balanced team and have worked very well together on all issues and in all areas, even managing to complete much needed revisions of our Vestry Bylaws that had been postponed several times in the last decade. 

We became landlords to a lost soul, in August 2005.  The desire for us to do good was great and we accepted the challenge to provide proper housing and the things that one needs in a house.  Furniture, kitchen items and more was provided with generous hearts.  That person went from being needy to outright belligerent .  We realized our “guest” was mentally ill and needed care that we could not provide.  After several confrontations with many Vestry members and others, we decided, on the advice of an attorney, that legal action was the only way we could remove this person from the rectory.  Once that was completed, the vestry reflected upon the original thought to provide shelter and comfort to a person down on their luck.  We were glad to have been able to help, but will certainly ask a lot more questions should we be approached again for such assistance.

The rectory does not currently function as a home.  It is now used regularly for meetings of the Vestry, the Scrapbooking Team, and other groups within the Diocese.  We are also searching for ways we can use the house to offer shelter to others, with a partner organization who would be ultimately responsible for those who use it, albeit temporarily.

It was just prior to the January 2006 annual meeting that Father John Russell became a part time vicar at St. Patrick’s.  Father John has encouraged the Vestry to stay as focused and independent as they became in 2005, and adding his own special touch has been received with grace.  Father John envisions a bigger and brighter future for St. Patrick’s than even some of us have.  He sees this church as solid and crucial to the local community.  Father John will guide us into our Golden Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, October 13, 2007.  We hope to see as much former clergy and members as possible at this wonderful, joyful event.

The last few years of our St. Patrick’s history finds us sending several beloved parishioners to be with Jesus.  Ed Reimer in June 2004; Russell Amos, one of our “Founding Fathers” in October 2004; Delbert Rehberg in May 2006; Mary Susan “Sue P” Patterson in August 2006; and Kathy Verdaasdonk in November 2006.  [My apologies to anyone whose loved one I may have missed.] 

We are now gearing up for a capital campaign to raise funds for a new roof for the church and a larger, safer parking lot.

Our church family here at St. Patrick’s is strong and accepts most challenges with open hearts.  We do our best to live into our mission as a church:


We are a community-oriented Christian Church guided

through prayer to serve God and all His creation by

demonstrating God's love and fostering others on their journey

by invitation, service and encouragement.


Editors Note: This article was written in 2007 prior to St. Patrick's 50th Annivesary celebration and has not been updated. 


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