Before Niagara University was recognized by its current name, it was known as the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels (SOLA). The Vincentian founders of the university, the Most Rev. John Timon, C.M., and Rev. John J. Lynch, C.M., purchased two adjoining farms, the Vedder and De Veaux farms, on Monteagle Ridge in 1856.
Over the next 25 years, the college and seminary grew and prospered, producing graduates that entered such fields as the priesthood, law and medicine, teaching, journalism and many others. Indeed, by the spring of 1863, the college had become so successful that the New York Legislature granted a charter empowering the college and seminary to award degrees to its graduates.
It wasn’t until August 1883 that Grover Cleveland, then governor of New York, gave permission to the college and seminary to change its name to Niagara University. The seminary remained a full and vibrant part of the university community until 1961 when it was moved to Albany, N.Y.
Last Thursday – May 24, 2012 – a dozen priests came together to celebrate the history of the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels. The anniversary Mass, which includes a renewal of the men’s commitment to priestly service, has become an annual tradition at Niagara University. Mass is followed by a luncheon in St. Vincent’s Hall.
This year’s event was particularly special for the Rev. Charles Gaffigan, C.M., a 1958 graduate of Niagara University, who was celebrating his 50th anniversary of being ordained in priesthood. Fr. Gaffigan is a member of the Diocese of Albany.