October 8, 2009
St. Elizabeth’s of Lancaster, a 117-bed assisted living facility of Catholic Health, will mark its Golden Jubilee on Friday, October 9, beginning at 1 p.m. with a special mass and blessing celebrated by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, D.D., Bishop of Buffalo. The mass will be followed by a short program and reception.
St. Elizabeth’s opened in 1959 on a parcel of land donated to the Diocese of Buffalo by the late John J. Nowak, M.D., a local physician who operated a medical practice in Lancaster. The land included Dr. Nowak’s home, which was built in 1930 and is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
For a short time, the Diocese used the home as a temporary rectory for priests who taught at St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster. After the priests moved into a new rectory, the Diocese decided to open a “Home for the Well-Aged” to serve residents throughout Lancaster and surrounding communities.
On September 15, 1959, St. Elizabeth’s was officially incorporated through the State Board of Social Welfare under the sponsorship of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. The Sisters of St. Francis of the Third Order Regular, who operated St. Francis Home of Gardenville for 70 years, were asked to operate the Lancaster Home. On October 5, 1959, the Sisters transferred 78 residents from their Gardenville home to St. Elizabeth’s, increasing the home’s capacity to 102 residents.
During their service at St. Elizabeth’s, the Franciscan Sisters resided in the home that once belonged to Dr. Nowak. In 1994, St. Elizabeth’s expanded with the addition of St. Ann’s Wing bringing the home to its current capacity. The Franciscan Sisters continued to administer at St. Elizabeth’s until 1995 when the first lay administrator was appointed. In 1999, St. Elizabeth’s became part of the Catholic Health System.
“As we celebrate this historic occasion, I would like to thank our residents and staff for making St. Elizabeth’s the truly special place it is today,” said Bartholomew Siener, Administrator. “As part of Catholic Health, we are proud to carry on the legacy of the Diocese of Buffalo and the Franciscan Sisters in service to the local community.”