Miscellaneous Erie County, New York Obituaries
From the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo


First Name:
Last Name:
Father John Kilian
Father John Kilian, 73, died on Dec. 28, 2002, in the St. Francis Geriatric Center, Buffalo.
Born in Dunkirk to the late Casimer and Helen (Worosz) Kilian, Father Kilian attended St. Hedwigís School and Dunkirk High School before attending St. John Vianney and Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora. He was ordained by Bishop Joseph A. Burke in St. Josephís Cathedral in 1962.
He began his first assignment in the missionary apostolate at St. Brendanís Parish in Almond in 1962 and then as an assistant at Assumption Parish, Buffalo, in 1963. He served as an assistant at SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Jamestown, in 1964, and at St. Anthonyís Parish, Batavia in 1965. In 1965, he taught at Notre Dame High School. He was a chaplain at the Villa Maria Motherhouse and a professor at Villa Maria College in 1967.
He also served as an assistant at St. Teresaís Parish and St. Adalbertís Parish, both of Buffalo. He was a professor at Archbishop Walsh High School, Olean, in 1974. He served as a missionary in Peru as part of the Maryknoll Associate Program in 1975. In 1985, he was a chaplain at the Wyoming Correctional Facility until 1990 when he went to Attica Correctional Facility until his retirement in 2001.
Father Kilian was a theology professor at Canisius College, was active in the National RENEW Office in New Jersey and worked among Hispanic communities. He also worked in Cochobomba, Bolivia, in the Altiplano Region with the Aymara Indians.
He is survived by a brother, Tom, and a sister, Sister M. Cynthia Kilian, CSSF.
Bishop Henry J. Mansell was celebrant at his funeral Mass on Jan. 3, 2003, in Blessed Sacrament Church, Buffalo.

Father Frederick J. Reisert, SJ
Father Frederick J. Reisert, 79, died Dec. 18, 2002, in his home in Loyola Hall, Canisius College, Buffalo.
Born in Brooklyn, Father Reisert was the son of Frederick and Margaret Reisert. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1943 in Poughkeepsie and made his final vows in 1980 at Canisius High School. He earned a bachelorís degree in science and philosophy and a masterís degree in ministry and theology from Woodstock College, Maryland. He was ordained by Cardinal Francis Spellman in 1954 at Fordham University, Bronx.
Father Reisert taught math and physics at Canisius High School, Buffalo, from 1956 to 1974. He left Canisius to open a private practice in 1974 as a psychological counselor, where he worked until his death. 
Survivors include two brothers, Gerard of Brooklyn and Charles of Long Island.
A scholarship fund has been established in memory of Father Reisert at Canisius High School. 
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Dec. 20, 2002, in St. Michaelís Parish, Buffalo. Burial was in the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville.

Father Sean C. OíLeary, OC
Father Sean C. OíLeary, 72, died on Dec. 30, 2002, in Venice, Fla., in Bon Secours Venice Hospital.
Born in Niagara Falls, Father OíLeary earned a bachelorís degree from St. Bonaventure University and a masterís degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Father OíLeary is survived by his sister, Molly Switzer of Sarasota, Fla., and brothers, Jeremiah of Youngstown and Thomas of Lewiston.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 3, 2003, by the Very Rev. John Russell, Order of Carmelite, provincial superior of the Canadian-American Province, in the Carmel Spiritual Center Chapel, Niagara Falls, Ont. 
Burial was on Jan. 4 in the Carmelite section of Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Ont.

Deacon Moises Cruz
Deacon Moises Cruz, 80, died on Dec. 14, 2002, in Brooks Memorial Hospital, Dunkirk.
Born in Puerto Rico, Deacon Cruz was the son of the late Baudilio and Francisco (Negron) Cruz. He was a veteran of World War II and served in Puerto Rico from 1944 to 1947. 
He married Belen in 1947 and in 1951 the couple moved to Buffalo. He was first employed at the Farm Hand in Buffalo. He later moved to Fredonia where he worked at the Fredonia Sanitation Service until his retirement in 1971.
Deacon Cruz was a member of the first class in the Permanent Diaconate and was ordained in 1979 in St. Josephís Cathedral, Buffalo, by Bishop Edward D. Head. 
He was assigned to St. Anthonyís Parish, Fredonia, and to the Hispanic ministry at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Dunkirk. He was also spiritual director for the Hispanic Cursillo with which he had been active since 1965.
He served on the Rural Ministry board of directors in Dunkirk for 10 years and volunteered at the Friendly Kitchen, a soup kitchen in Dunkirk, with his wife who cooked Hispanic food every Thursday. 
Deacon Cruz conducted two prayer groups each week, one at the Friendly Kitchen and another in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.
He is survived by his wife, Belen, and four sons, Moises Jr., Louis, Arthur and Rocky, and many grandchildren, all living in the Dunkirk/Fredonia area.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Dec. 18, 2002, in St. Anthonyís Parish, Fredonia. Burial was in St. Anthonyís Cemetery.

Deacon Jeffrey T. Vogt
Deacon Jeffrey T. Vogt, 40, died unexpectedly on Dec. 29, 2002, in WCA Hospital, Jamestown.
He was born in Dunkirk to Jack and Regina Mae (Centner) Vogt and began his lifelong service to others at the age of 14 when he first became active in volunteer and charitable activities. He graduated from Cardinal Mindszenty High School, Dunkirk, and earned a bachelorís degree in philosophy from Wadhams Hall College, Ogdensburg, a masterís degree in history from Fredonia State College, along with a masterís degree in theology from Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora.
He taught social studies and religious studies at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs where he was also director of the Social Justice Outreach Program through which he encouraged his studentsí involvement in Buffaloís neglected East Side parishes.
Deacon Vogt was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2000 and served as deacon at Holy Trinity Parish, Dunkirk, where he was also pro-life chairman, and a member of the Religious Education Committee and St. Vincent de Paul Society. He was also northern Chautauqua County representative on the Pastoral Life Council, serving on the Respect Life Board and the Northern Chautauqua Vicariate Council.
He ran for a seat in the State Assembly in the 150th District in 1980, 1982 and 1984. He was chairman of the Dunkirk Republican Committee for 10 years, president of the Chautauqua County Young Republican Club and a member of the Chautauqua County Republican Executive Committee.
Deacon Vogt was affiliated with the Chautauqua County Youth Board, Ripon Society, Amnesty International, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Historical Society of Dunkirk, Friends of the Dunkirk Free Library, Adams Art Gallery and the NAACP.
Deacon Vogt was a second-year student at the University of Buffalo School of Law.
He is survived by his parents, two brothers, Jack Jr. of Jamestown and James of Ashville, and three sisters, Sarah Sager of Forestville, Judith Sobilo of Dunkirk and Janice of Lakewood.
A scholarship has been established in his memory at St. Francis High School.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 3, 2003, in Holy Trinity Parish, Dunkirk. Burial was in Holy Trinity Cemetery. 

Sister Mary Helena Cheney, OSF
Sister Mary Helena Cheney, 89, died on Dec. 18, 2002, in Olean General Hospital.
The former Elizabeth Anna was born to the late Helen Mae (Hill) and Austin Jay Cheney, formerly of Machias.
She entered the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany in St. Elizabeth Motherhouse in 1945 and professed her vows in 1952.
She earned a bachelorís degree in education from the St. Elizabeth Teacher College and a masterís certificate in religious education from the Challenge Program, Bronx. She was a catechetical and classroom teacher for 39 years in Rochester, Delevan, Ossining, Jamestown, Port Jervis and Piscatawy, N.J., and Winsted, Conn. She was a reading specialist for 11 years at St. Josephís School, Niagara Falls, where she was vice principal and librarian.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Dec. 20, 2002, in St. Elizabeth Motherhouse. Interment was in St. Bonaventure Cemetery.

Sister Mary Basil Fritz, OSF
Sister Mary Basil Fritz, 90, died on Dec. 31, 2002, in Olean General Hospital.
The former Doris Fritz was born in Harveyville, Pa., and professed her final vows in the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany in 1942. For 46 years she taught in Jamaica, West Indies. 
Survivors include her sisters, Clare Tucker, Rita Abbot and Anna Eckman, and her brothers, Daniel and John.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 4, 2003, in the Chapel of St. Elizabeth Motherhouse. Interment was in St. Bonventure Cemetery.

Sister Ruth Schleher, RSM
Sister Ruth Schlehr, 66, died Jan. 15, 2003, in the Mercy Center Health Care Unit.
The daughter of Isabelle (Gebhard) and the late John Schlehr, the former Sister Mary Luke attended St. John the Evangelist Elementary School and Mount Mercy Academy, both in Buffalo. She attended Trocaire, Medaille and Canisius colleges, all of Buffalo, and earned a bachelorís degree from Marywood College and a masterís degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Sister Ruth entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1954. She taught in elementary schools staffed by the Sisters of Mercy, including St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Teresaís, Holy Family and All Saints, in Buffalo, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Orchard Park. She was principal of St. Maryís School in Olean, Holy Family, St. John the Evangelist and St. Martin Schools, in Buffalo. She was principal of Mount Mercy Academy and coordinator of Cultural Integration for the Catholic Health System. She was also a well-known artist.
Survivors include her mother and her sisters Mary Parysek, Thelma Winter, Joan Hauth, Jacqueline Schmitz and a brother, John.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 18, 2003, in Mercy Center Chapel. Burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna.

Sister Mary Donald Thacker, OSF
Sister Mary Donald Thacker, 85, died Dec. 25, 2002, in Mount St. Maryís Hospital, Lewiston.
The former Marjorie Thacker, born in New Lexington, Ohio, professed final vows with the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity at Stella Niagara in1938. She earned a bachelorís degree from Canisius College and a masterís degree from St. Louis University.
She taught at St. Josephís School, Gowanda; St. Michaelís School, Buffalo; Stella Niagara Cadet School, Stella Niagara; and Sacred Heart Academy, Amherst. 
A funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 30, 2002, in the sistersí chapel at Stella Niagara. Burial was in the Stella Niagara Cemetery.

Msgr. Gabalski of St. Stanís passes away
Msgr. John R. Gabalski, long time pastor of St. Stanislaus Church and one of the most well-known priests of the area, passed away Thursday night, Oct. 9, due to complications from surgery he had earlier in the week at Sisters Hospital in Buffalo. 
"He has been a true patriarch, a rock-solid priest and an intrepid leader," said Bishop Henry J. Mansell of Msgr. Gabalski's passing. "He was powerful in his speech and even stronger in example. His inspiration will remain with us as long as we live."
The bells tolled all day Friday at St. Stanís for the 81-year-old pastor. A large portrait of Msgr. Gabalski stood near the front altar, and many of the people who encountered the priest over the years complimented his boundless energy.
"He was a priestís priest, a tireless worker," said David Szyjka, a third-generation parishioner at St. Stanís and member of the board of trustees. "He considered the parishioners of St. Stanís his second family. He was the foundation of the parish, and nothing was beyond his reach because everything (he did) was for God. He was the heart and soul of the East Side."
Joseph Macielag, president of the Polish American Conference, compared Msgr. Gabalski to Pope John Paul II, not only because of their Polish heritage, but their commitment to hard work.
"He was a true pastor, reaching out to everybody," Macielag said. "Msgr. Gabalski was a very special person. He lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was always available and always involved with the parish. We knew he was past the retirement age for pastors, yet he never took a day off."
Msgr. Gabalski was pastor of St. Stanís when many neighborhood Poles left the East Side and moved to the suburbs. Regardless, many of those same people continued to attend Mass at St. Stanís every week, and its pastor never judged the condition of the neighborhood or its residents.
"The man lived for the East Side," said Szyjka. "When talking about the East Side, he said, ĎDonít judge what you see; judge what I know.í He always felt safe (here)."
John Raymond Gabalski was born to John L. and Barbara (Prelewicz) Gabalski on July 9, 1922, in Buffalo. It wasnít long before he found himself in Orchard Lake, Mich., where he attended St. Maryís High School. Msgr. Gabalski received his bachelorís degree from St. Maryís College in Michigan, as well as mastersí degrees from DePaul University in Chicago and Canisius College in Buffalo. He also attended the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and the University of Detroit.
Following his graduation at the SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich., Msgr. Gabalski was ordained a priest by Bishop John F. OíHara at St. Josephís Cathedral in Buffalo on May 22, 1948. Later that year, Msgr. Gabalski was back in Michigan teaching at St. Maryís College in Orchard Lake, serving as a faculty member there until 1965.
He came back to Buffalo in 1965, serving a brief stint as vicar for Resurrection Church in Cheektowaga and then St. Florianís Parish in Buffalo until 1966. Msgr. Gabalski joined the faculty at the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary in Buffalo in 1965 and served to 1974, when he was assigned as the pastor of Queen of Peace in Buffalo. He served there until 1978, then reassigned to run St. Stanís, serving there until his passing.
Msgr. Gabalski was named Prelate of Honor, thereby becoming a monsignor, in 1974. In 1993, Pope John Paul II awarded Msgr. Gabalski the Protonotary Apostolic, the highest papal award that can be given to a priest.
He was also a member of the Polish Priestsí Association, Knights of Columbus, Catholic War Veterans Association and the Holy Name Society.

Sister Mary Angelita Komuszynski, CSSF
Sister Mary Angelita Komuszynski, 90, died on Sept. 12, 2003, in the Felician Sisters Health and Wellness Center, Buffalo.
The former Sophie Komuszynski, a graduate of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy, Buffalo, entered the Buffalo Province of the Felician Sisters in 1929 and professed final vows in 1937. She earned a bachelorís degree from Villa Maria College, Erie, Pa. She was a member of Sacred Heart Parish, Batavia.
Sister Mary Angelita taught for 55 years in Catholic elementary schools in the dioceses of Buffalo, Erie, Syracuse and Ogdensburg. She was also principal at St. Augustine School, Depew, and tutored students at Southtowns Catholic School in Lakeview for seven years. She remained at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent in Lakeview and moved to the provincial house in 1999.
She is survived by her sister, Irene Hagen of Reno, Nev.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Sept. 15 in Villa Maria Convent Chapel. Burial was in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga.

Father Isidore Kowalski, OFM Conv.
Father Isidore Kowalski, 87, died on Sept. 13, 2003, in Fairhaven, Mass.
He was born in Brandon, Vt., and ordained in 1943 in St. Hyacinth Seminary in Granby, Mass. He earned a bachelorís degree in economics and a masterís degree in education from Canisius College, Buffalo. 
He served at St. Anthony of Padua Friary in Buffalo in 1946 and St. Bonaventure University. He taught at Bishop Ryan High School, Buffalo, from 1947 to 1958 and from 1962 to 1968. 
Father Kowalski spent eight years at St. Anthony Mission House in Ellicott City. He served as a missionary in Ghana, West Africa, from 1976 to 1983 when he moved into St. Lawrence Brindisi Friary in the City of Tonawanda. There he preached and served as a chaplain from 1983 to 1985.
He was parochial vicar of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church, Buffalo, from 1985 to 1987 and served a year as guardian of the Immaculate Conception Friary and chaplain of the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in Hamburg. 
Since 1989 he served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, New Bedford, Mass, where a funeral Mass was celebrated Sept. 18. Burial was on Sept. 19 in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga.

Sister Frances Lea Laughlin, SMIC
Sister Frances Lea Laughlin died on July 26, 2003, in Albuquerque, N.M. 
She entered the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of West Paterson, N.J., in 1934 and professed her final vows in 1935. 
Sister Frances Lea earned a bachelorís and masterís degree from St. Bonaventure University followed by a doctorate from Catholic University, Washington, D.C.
She served as a missionary in Tientsin, China, until 1948. She returned due to the rise of communism there and served as a researchist, writer and artist at the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University.
Sister Frances Lea is survived by her stepmother, Maria A. Laughlin, and half brother, John, and half sister Mary Lea Laughlin Boggs.
A funeral Mass was held on Aug. 6 in St. Joseph Residence, Ringwood, N.J. Burial was in the congregational cemetery in West Paterson.

Sister Lois Ann Sanick, OSF
Sister Lois Ann Sanick, 68, died on Sept. 5, 2003, in Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo.
The daughter of Henry and Selma (Raiski) Sanick of Rochester, she entered the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany in 1955 and professed her final vows in 1962.
Sister Lois taught in Prince of Peace and St. Joseph schools, Niagara Falls, and other schools outside the diocese. She was director of religious education at St. Maryís Parish, Olean, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Buffalo. 
She also served in parish ministry at St. Johnís in Olean, Sacred Heart in Portville, and Our Lady of Lourdes in Buffalo.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Sept. 9 in the chapel of St. Elizabeth Motherhouse, Allegany. Interment was in St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany.

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