I have not heard much flak about last Saturday’s Buffalo News article regarding the possibility of moving St. Gerard church to Norcross, Georgia, brick by brick (then again, I was out of town all weekend). Tim Tielman, of course, is against the removal of this historic building. To Tim, every building built during Buffalo’s glory days is historic. His solution to the vacant Catholic churches, many in desperate need of repair: “Work a bit harder [about how to reuse them]”.
I’ve done a 180 in my opinion of Tielman and his Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, whom I originally respected as someone looking out for Buffalo’s heritage. Now I just think he’s an obstructionist. And reactionary, someone living entirely in the past. And full of screeds but no real solutions. An attention addict.
The Catholic Church, I would hope, is about the people and not the places. Telling the Church to think harder about how to save empty buildings in a locale that has lost half its population is tantamount to telling them to spend money and resources where they least benefit the community they have dedicated their lives to serve. Dereliction results to half the buildings in an area that needs half its building space. We only have so many Ani DiFrancos and an incredible number of vacant churches – and other historic but decrepit buildings – and hardly any money anywhere to save even a fraction. Tielman needs to get real.
The Catholic diocese may have a unique (and rare!) opportunity to see one of its buildings take on a new life, and I for one would love to see a piece of historic Buffalo in the Atlanta area. The London Bridge is still the London Bridge, even if it spans an artificial water channel in Arizona.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to travel throughout the country and find Buffalo heritage everywhere?