Church of Buffalo holds Memorial Mass for Fr. Joseph Bayne

Former Buffalo Fire Department Chaplain remembered for his courage and commitment to his beloved firefighters.

Bishop Michael J. Fisher, bishop of Buffalo, was the principal celebrant for a Memorial Mass for the late Friar Joseph W. Bayne, OFM Conv., at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo on July 15. Fr. Bayne, a former chaplain with the Buffalo Fire Department, died June 23 in Chicago at the age of 66. “We remember a wonderful priest, Fr. Joe Bayne,” Bishop Fisher said. “Let us hold him in our hearts and our prayers. He was a priest above all things. We thank his family for the gift of his vocation to the Franciscans. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., archbishop of Atlanta, was among the concelebrants at the Mass which was attended by friars from the United States and Canada. Priests and permanent deacons of the Diocese of Buffalo were also on the altar.

In his homily, Minister Provincial Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv., “Joe loved Buffalo and was a great ambassador for the city. Many of us are still in shock at his sudden death. It is with faith we come before God and thank and praise him for the gift he has given us in Joe Bayne. Joe has reached the goal of his life and for that we are happy. Joe loved to say, ‘I don’t care what they think of me. I’m going to tell it like it is.’ We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we don’t hold grudges. Joe’s personality served him well in his preaching. Like John the Baptist, Joe preached Jesus Christ in a way that captivated his listeners. Joe met people where they were. He was rock star here in Buffalo.”

Fr. Michael then read “A Firefighter’s Son,” a poem Father Joe had on the first page of a scrapbook that was filled with clippings of the story of his father, a Baltimore Fire Department firefighter who perished fighting a fire in 1977.

“Joe is synonymous with the fire department. He would show up to the most difficult situations. He ministered to the firefighters, the first responders, and their families, and of course, those whose lives were turned upside down. His presence was one of hope. His truly were the arms of God as he hugged and consoled so many. Joe loved being a Franciscan Friar. From day one he wanted to be the best friar and he always encouraged young men to consider the Franciscans. Joe loved being a friar priest. He was a great preacher and celebrated the sacraments with so many. He was a mentor to so many priests.

“Yes, we all know, life is difficult … because life involves sacrifice. Jesus crucified and risen from the dead boldly proclaims hope does not disappoint. We will see Joe again. And so, Joe, Friar Joe, Father Joe, ES11, Billy to your mom and family, we already miss you. Thank you for saying yes to Jesus and being His presence in our lives. We now commend you into the merciful arms of Jesus.”

Several people delivered Words of Remembrance

Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Rinaldo said, “He had a significant impact on the Buffalo Fire Department and an enduring legacy he left behind. He served with a distinction for over a decade as department chaplain. He was uniquely qualified to handle the tough stuff (of being a fire chaplain). He had a deep understanding and passion for the unselfish work performed by firefighters. His presence at fire sciences projected a sense of calm. He served this department long and faithfully. Let today serve as a final salute to his courage and commitment to his beloved firefighters.

Dan Nevereth, commissioner, Homeland Security and Emergency Services – Erie County: “Fr. Joe was our first chaplain. He was the godfather of our tremendously talented chaplain corps of today. He was a calming force in the eye of a hurricane. He was a beacon of comfort.”

Bill Miles, executive secretary, New York State Association of Fire Chaplains: “I called him brother. He was a brother to every one of us. Fr. Joe held training sessions to help other chaplains to be more effective. All of you had the same experience with our brother Joseph. He was always there for all of us.”

Jim McCullough, retired deputy commissioner, Erie County Department of Emergency Services: “On behalf of Fr. Joe’s mother, Jean, she would like to thank all the firefighters for honoring her son these past few weeks. Joe was made of steel. He was our Superman.”

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