The Belle Center Mission
To offer innovative, educational, social and community building services for children, youth, senior citizens and families living in Western New York
The Belle Center honors the name of Father Vincent L. Belle, Buffalo native and graduate of Public School 83, Kensington High School, Canisius College, and Christ the King Seminary. Ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1948, he was assigned to Holy Cross Church as an Assistant Pastor where he quickly became well loved. His parishioners agreed with the church’s pastor Monsignor Gambino, who said of Father Belle, “There was only goodness and humility in his manners, work and personality.”
He was especially known for visiting the sick and homebound, often serving the sacrament of the Eucharist on those visitations. On the morning of January 1, 1960, after distributing Holy Communion at the 7 a.m. mass at Holy Cross, he set out with the Eucharistic elements for a New Year’s visit to homebound parishioners. He was starting his car in the parish garage when he was shot dead. Fr. Belle was 37.
The grieving West Side resolved to establish a community center in his honor. By 1976 The Father Vincent L. Belle Community Center, Inc. was carrying on his legacy by serving the neighborhood at the corner of Busti and Maryland, no more than a hundred yards from the spot where he died. For four decades The Belle Center has proven to be a resilient asset of the community providing comprehensive services to the Lower West Side while focusing on the changing community’s evolving needs. For example, center newsletters tell of tutoring services being offered to children as early as 1978. English Language Learning Classes provide another example of meeting community needs. Such classes have been offered for more than two generations.
Re-incorporated in 2002, the center still honors Fr. Belle’s legacy and carries on his work.