The Church of St. Isidore’s was founded as a Mission church of St. Mary’s in Cattaraugus. St. Isidore’s has a unique and colorful history reflecting the spirit and resourcefulness of the agrarian community it served.
In 1937, Bishop John A. Duffy of Buffalo was concerned about the large rural areas of the diocese. Catholic Churches were many miles apart. Bishop Duffy, sensing the special needs of the rural church and young people, conceived a plan, which grew into the Missionary Apostolate.
St. Mary’s Church in Cattaraugus became the headquarters of the Missionary Apostolate. The communities of Otto and East Otto were part of St. Mary’s Cattaraugus. At this time, young priests were assigned as administrators to the area. The young priests resided in the Cattaraugus rectory. Then in the 1950s, due to further expansion of the Apostolate, the headquarters was moved from Cattaraugus to Delevan.
With the number of Catholic families in East Otto growing due to migration to the surrounding countryside, the decision was made to extend the Apostolate services to the community by establishing a new chapel. In 1955, Father Daniel Szostak, administrator at St. Mary’s Cattaraugus, rented space in a vacant store. He quickly began the task of turning the room into a chapel, enlisting the help of the men and women of East Otto. Community members offered their assistance in collecting church artifacts and furniture from the surrounding churches. Father Szostak rode in a truck and gathered the altar, pews, carpet, and organ. After many hours of working, cleaning, and painting, the Mission of St. Mary was founded under the administration of St. Mary’s Cattaraugus, and Msgr. John J. Neylon, director of the Missionary Apostolate.
Father Szostak said the first Mass in April of 1955 at the chapel’s temporary location in the East Otto storefront. There were 25 people in attendance. Father Rupert Wright was the first administrator while Father Conlin was the first resident administrator. Msgr. Richard Rutecki became the advisor and continued to help for several years.
In June of 1957, the Mission officially became St. Isidore’s Church. St. Isidore, whose life-long work was toiling in the fields, is the patron saint of farmers. St. Isidore’s Church is set amidst acres of farmlands and many of the parishioners were farmers. Many years there was a celebration of the blessing of the livestock.
Lawn fetes were held in 1957, ’58, and ’59 on the Martin W. Westfall Farm. The 1960, ’61, and ’62 lawn fetes were held at Welch’s Grove.
There were dances, dinners, and pancake breakfasts sponsored by the Altar Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, Parish Council, and youth group. Parishioners enjoyed a variety of other activities during this period.
Members of St. Isidore’s continued to congregate at its temporary location until Christmas Day of 1962, at which time the storefront church was destroyed by fire. The resourceful Father John Ducette still found ways to offer Mass to his congregation, using the East Otto Fire Hall and a vacant store to hold Mass. He also rented a room in East Otto to be near his flock. However, it was soon decided that a permanent structure should be erected at a new site in town, and plans were made to build.
In 1963, a new church was built. Several people donated their labor and equipment to the project and the parishioners helped in many ways. The administrator was Father Leonard Biniszkiewicz. Father Biniszkiewicz finished building an apartment at the new church and completed all of the finishing work on the site.