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St. Anthony's

May 13, 2019 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in teen city, St. Anthony's, batavia, Youth Bureau, news, notify.

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The planned move of the Youth Bureau to St. Anthony's on Liberty Street, Batavia, is on schedule and the new program should open in time for the school year this fall, said Jocelyn Sikorski in an interview last week.

Sikorski is the director of both the city's and the county's Youth Bureau and the combined program will move from its current location at 12 MacArthur Drive, Batavia, this summer.

The Youth Bureau will go from a 1,800-square-foot building to more than 11,000 square feet of available space, and from a location practically on the outskirts of the City to one near the center of the city and closer to the underserved youth population on the Southside.

St. Anthony's has already become an important youth activity spot thanks to its owner, City Church, and the work of Ryan Macdonald, who leads youth and community activities on Tuesday nights.

Teen City will offer after-school programs to youths age 9 to 16, including a classroom/tech room, recreation room, gaming room, cafeteria, kitchen and full gymnasium during program hours, which are set at 2:30 to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday during the school year, and 1 to 6 p.m. during the summer.

"There are a lot of youth on the Southside who want those services, who are utilizing those services with Ryan on Tuesday nights, so we’re going to meet the needs of the community as they are and serve those kids who may not be coming to the youth center because of its current location," Sikorski.

The move is expected to be completed in August.

Teen City is a joint project of the Youth Bureau, St. Anthonys's/City Church, the YMCA, and United Way.

"It’s worked out well," Macdonald said. "We love the kids. We think the kids, for the most part, love us. We’re looking for the whole community to be involved.

"We can’t do it on our own and that’s the key takeaway," Macdonald added. "The YMCA is going to be involved the Youth Bureau, the City and the County, United Way is going to be involved. I think that’s an important takeaway because not one entity can do it all on their own. If we work together at it we can get a whole lot more done."

With 100 kids showing up every Tuesday at St. Anthony's, Sikorski said there is ample evidence there is demand for a program like Teen City that is easier for more kids in the city to reach.

With the help of the school district, transportation will be provided to kids who might find St. Anthony's too far away to walk or bike to.

"The other positive is we're modeling the school's behavior and rules with what we’re developing so there will be consistency for these kids," Sikorski "They will know what their expectations are. It’s not going to be any different.

"This will be supervised and structured and it will be a safe place for those kids to go," she added.

The former Youth Bureau building will be taken over by City Schools. Superintendent Chris Dailey said near-term plans are for the high school to use the front parking lot and the building for storage during the ongoing capital improvement project.

The community garden behind the Youth Bureau building will be able to expand into the basketball court area.

Macdonald said he sees this as a positive move for what City Church offers at St. Anthony's and the children of the community.  The Tuesday night programs themselves are expensive to run and only survive because of the generous support of sponsors. Now the children of the area will have more options and more support.

"We’ve all needed somebody to speak into our lives, to love us, to care for us at certain points, and not to say the parents aren’t doing that but we want to add to it," Macdonald said.

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The Batavia Youth Bureau moved to the former community pool location in 1998 after the City sold the Bank Street location, which housed the youth bureau and senior services, to the County, which took over the Senior Center at that time. Now it's moving to St. Anthony's.

May 8, 2019 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Anthony's, City Church, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

Last night, I stopped by St. Anthony's with no intention of covering anything. All I had with me was my iPhone but when I walked in, dancers from Divine Dance Studio were just about to start performing and then I watched Ryan Macdonald talk about "doing what you can do to make a difference" before giving away a bike to Alex Baker, so here are two short videos.

Video Sponsor
December 19, 2018 - 4:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Anthony's, City Church, batavia, news, Christmas.

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City Church hosted its annual community Christmas party at St. Anthony's on Liberty Street, Batavia, last night, and gave away 33 bikes to children from the neighborhood.

They also handed out a ton of toys.

Numerous people donated bikes, toys, and money to the event, said Ryan Macdonald.

Photos by Mo Schoen.

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October 3, 2018 - 3:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, news, St. Anthony's, batavia, City Church.

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As part its workforce development mission, the Genesee Economic Development Center has been participating in Tuesday evening activities at St. Anthony's, run by City Church, by bringing in recruiters to help connect members of the community with job opportunities.

Last night, Remedy Staffing was on hand to let community members know they can help get job seekers interviews with local companies.

Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for GCEDC (top photo and playing basketball below), told the people gathered in the gym during a break in the basketball games that there are more than 1,000 jobs available in Genesee County, including jobs that pay $15 an hour or more and jobs that provide a career path for advancement.

"Whether you're looking for full-time or part-time work there are jobs you can get started on tomorrow," Suozzi said.

Ryan Macdonald, who supervises Tuesday night activities at St. Anthony's, reminded the crowd they asked for help with finding jobs which is why GCEDC and Remedy staffing were on hand.

Kathryn Kempisty, client partnership supervisor for Remedy, said it would only take 30 seconds of a person's time on Tuesday night and a 30-minute meeting sometime in the next week in order for Remedy to line up job interviews with local employers.

"If you don’t know what you’re looking for, we can let you know about the options," Kempisty said. "There is so much out there that we can’t wait to have you come into our office."

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Kathryn Kempisty and Brittany Nadrowski, Remedy Staffing.

June 6, 2018 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Anthony's, batavia, news, notify.

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On a Tuesday night, there is probably no place in Batavia with more positive energy flowing than St. Anthony's on Liberty Street.

The former Catholic Church property is now owned an operated by City Church and for more than a year, church leaders have been opening up the gym and community rooms for basketball, games, an art class, and dance lessons.

And everybody -- white, black, rich, poor, young, old -- is having a good time.

"We're just showing the love of Christ and reaching out in care and love," said Ryan Macdonald, who was running the events last night. 

Ryan is the son of Pastor Marty Macdonald of City Church.

When the doors open on Tuesday night, they're open to everybody, Macdonald said.

He's mindful of some of the issues faced by Southside residents, and some of the negative news about the community recently, including a recent murder on Central Avenue, just a block away, and he said that's why he and other volunteers are there.

"When you create a relationship with an open hand instead of a fist you can get a whole lot more done in a community," Macdonald said. "I think that we could all benefit from reaching out instead of demanding a certain set of rules, so that’s what we’re doing here."

At 7 p.m., all of the activities stop and everybody participating enters the gym for a short message and a prayer before food is served -- in this case, six giant sheet pizzas from Batavia's Original paid for by donations from local businesses.

After reading a Bible verse, MacDonald said, "Somebody asked me not long ago why do you do what you do on a Tuesday night. Here's my answer. The Lord said to those people who asked, 'we never fed you, we never clothed you, we never loved you.' He answered and said these similar words. 'When you did it for those other people, you did it for me.'

"That’s why we’re here tonight because I believe when I honor you, every person in this room, from the greatest among us to the least among us, when I’m honoring you, I honor God himself. That’s why I’m here tonight."

At that point, everybody in the room applauded.

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August 3, 2016 - 6:08am
posted by Billie Owens in City Church, St. Anthony's, batavia, news.

Everyone is invited to City Church's first big event at its new property "St. Anthony's -- A City Church" for "The Picnic in the Parking Lot" starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4.

It's located at 122 Liberty St. in Batavia. There will be food, live music, kids' activities and more.

"We've really pulled out all the stops on this one," says Pastor Marty Macdonald in a Facebook message about the event. "I'm excited about it, about the people who will be here, the music. ... We have enough food to feed half the city...Let's get to know one another."

In another mesaage, aimed at dispelling "myths" that apparently have sprung up about City Church's plans for St. Anthony, the pastor says the beautiful, historic wooden pews inside the sanctuary are staying put, so too are the finely crafted stained-glass windows, which add "architectural splendor" to the whole place. And the existing church on Main Street Downtown will remain open. A third City Church Sunday service, to be held at St. Anthony's, will be added at some point, time to be announced.

City Church closed escrow on the former Roman Catholic parish and school this spring.

January 13, 2013 - 9:18pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in batavia, St. Anthony's.

Parking was at a premuim near the corner of Libery Street and Central Avenue this morning as hundreds of Catholics filled St. Anthony's Church for the closing Mass of Thanksgiving. Bishop Richard Malone of the Buffalo Diocese presided over the last mass at the proud Italian parish.

Since 1908, St. Anthony's has served many on the Southside of the city. Today, some parishoners said they felt like they were attending a funeral. Many with tears in their eyes, and some even dressed in black. Ann Valerych has been going to St. Anthony's for 84 years. "This is more of a funeral Mass. It's the end of St. Anthony's and it didn't have to be."

In 2008, St. Anthony's was merged with Sacred Heart to become Ascension Parish. This was part of the Buffalo Diocese's Journey in Faith and Grace program. In September, the Ascension Parish Council recommended that St. Anthony's close its doors Jan. 1, 2013, because of the financial difficulties operating both churches.

The only bright spot of the Mass was one last baptismal. Daniel Fix and Gretchen Gautieri and Godparents Aaron and Kristen Fix brought Sadie Lynn Fix to the alter before the Bishop and the congregation to instill a feeling of a new beginning and celebrate a new life in the church. Gretchen and her family are long-time members at the parish.

"We still have a church to go to, even though it's not this one," Gretchen said. "It's still a sense of community and we will be able to pray together no matter where we are." 

In his homily, Bishop Malone expressed his understanding of people's feelings of anger and sadness over the closing. Malone says there are many Catholics across the Northeast experiencing the same things as you are here. He told parishoners, "We do this as a people who are strong in faith, who have profound hope that Christ leads us forward and to be able to have a kind love in our hearts to overcome the wounds. It's time for a real act of trust."

Paula Fischer says she has tried to fit in with folks at Sacred Heart but has had enough politics. She says it's bittersweet and she won't be staying with Ascension Parish/Sacred Heart.

"I don't feel that sense of community. The meshing of the two parishes never happened and I don't feel welcome." Fischer says. "The Catholic Church in America today, I don't like the path it is going. I have a strong faith, I will always be Roman Catholic. I will find another place to worship."  

The Buffalo Diocese has not said what its plans are for the church or any of the buildings on the property.

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