Blessed Sacrament
Information Obtained

History of Allegany County 1879

Allegany County and Its People 1896

Andover News

Andover Sesquicentennial 1974

Compiled by William A. Greene

The first public Catholic services in Andover were held about the year 1850, in the old Cornell homestead, on North Main Street, by Rev. John Touhey.  Unknown as to where this house stood. Later Masses were celebrated in the rear of the Pardon Store which stood about where the Blarney Stone Bar stood.

St. John’s (Roman Catholic) Church was formed in 1852. There were about 150 members associated to this church.

The erection of the first Catholic Church was begun in the spring of 1854.  It was a wooden structure built on Dyke Street, were the Vars family and the Dan Deming family used to live. It cost $600 to build and was finished in 1855 but was never dedicated.  Father Touhey, no doubt named the church “St. John’s” in honor of his patron Saint.  During its occupation by the society, about $1,200 more was expended in improvements in 1864.  It seated 350.

With the growth of the population of the village and the settlement in the parish (notably on South Hill) of adherents of the Roman Catholic faith, came the urgent need of a more commodious and convenient house of worship. On April 14, 1883, the Rev. D. Walsh, an energetic and zealous clergyman took charge of the parish, and undertook to supply the need. Fertile in the establishment of resources, untiring in effort, eminently public-spirited and enjoying the hearty co-operation and support of his congregation, he planned and erected the present beautiful brick structure known as the Church of the Blessed Sacrament.  On July 13, 1883, the present church property was purchased.

Sunday, August 9, 1885, witnessed the laying of the cornerstone of the new Blessed Sacrament Church.

Corner Stone 

Solemn Mass was celebrated in St. John’s Church.  After a year has passed the church was completed at a cost of $12,000.  The dedication of the new church took place September 26, 1886.

In 1892 the inside of the church was painted and a pipe organ was installed. From 1893 through 1901 old buildings were removed and the rectory was enlarged and modernized.  The entire lawn was graded and a new stone walk laid on Church Street.  The church dept was also cleared during this time.  The Statue of the Sacred Heart was placed in the church along with the life-size Statue of St. Anthony and a new Chalice was donated.  The last two items were donated by Rev. Thomas A. Murray.

From 1901 through 1904 saw more improvements.  The church was provided with four chandeliers.  The furnaces of both church and house were supplied with O’Reilly burners, free from the expense to the parish through the generosity of the inventor, J. A. O’Reilly and the Father Murray.  The organ was thoroughly overhauled; a complete vestment case was built on the East Sacristy.  The stone walk was continued down Elm Street and the local Telephone was installed in the rectory. A handsome sanctuary lamp was erected by the Alter Society which provided the oil for the lamp burning before the Tabernacle.

As different priest were sent here to replace the priest that been moved on, different ideas came along with them. The church flourished with all of these priest.  At one time, about 1915 The Blessed Sacrament Church here in Andover was ranked as one of the best in the Buffalo Diocese due to its advanced administrative practices and artistic qualities.

In 1919, the Blessed Sacrament Church was honored to have a native son ordained to priesthood.  Rev. John Lawrence Lynch was ordained by Bishop Walsh at St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral on November 2, 1919.  He celebrated his first Solemn High Mass at Blessed Sacrament on November 11, 1919.  His priesthood was short lived as he died in 1921 and is buried in St. Johns Cemetery.

In 1927 land was purchased and a new cemetery was constructed on the Greenwood Road about a mile East of Andover.  The new cemetery was called Gate of Heaven Cemetery. A bronze marker is attached to the inside of the stone wall supporting the arch-way, naming the people that helped in the construction of the cemetery.  The first person to be buried there was John P. Dean in July of 1931.

In 1928 the J. C. Bassett house on Church Street next to the Catholic parochial house, was purchased by the Catholic Society of Andover and was remodeled entirely, with new floors and furnishings throughout.  Electric lighting and dainty tables made a most attractive interior.  This was to be the church parish house.

Another Andover native became a priest in 1924 and that was Father John R. Shea.  He was a native of Andover and educated in Wellsville.  He studied in Toronto and Rome where he was ordained in 1924.  He became priest of the Blessed Sacrament Church in 1947.

In April of 1974, Father Shea celebrated his 50th year as a priest.  Sadly he died in June.

Also in the mid 70’s the church enjoyed another re-do.  The entire inside was painted, statures were redone, art motifs decorated the alter and walls.  All of this was under the supervision and guidance of William (Scotty) MacCrae, the art teacher that Andover and Andover Central School has been so fortunate to have for so many years.

Sometime in the summer of 1982 the parish house was torn down.  By a vote of the congregation, it was voted to tear down the house as it was unsafe.

In the winter and spring of 2008 & 2009 remodeling of the parish house has been taking place.

 Catholic 01

Catholic 05

Catholic 03