Canisius' German Heritage

Image of Bishop TimonGerman and Canisius College have been inseparable ever since the college was founded in 1870. Bishop John Timon, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Buffalo, had invited German Jesuits to establish institutions of secondary and of higher learning. This invitation was extended upon the request of the German community of Buffalo. When the first 35 students arrived at Canisius College's temporary location at 434 Ellicott Street, thirty-one of them were of German descent. All of them understood German and most spoke German better than English. The one French and three Irish lads in the first Freshman class must have been shocked when their Latin teacher handed them a Latin grammar book in which all rules were explained in German! 

When the college moved to a new Washington Street Canisius College Buildingbuilding on Washington Avenue in 1872, the number of faculty was increased by the arrival of additional Jesuits, who had been expelled from their native Germany under Otto von Bismarck's chancellorship. Father Behren, the first president of Canisius College, recognized by 1873 that the number of students of nationalities other than German was increasing, and so he and his successors sought to recruit new members for the faculty, who also had an excellent command of English. However, in an 1873 Canisius College advertisement in the Catholic Union the following statement appeared: "As many of the professors (at Canisius College) are natives of Germany, the students of this institution have special facilities for acquiring a thorough knowledge of the German language." ---

GroupTo this day, the ties between the college and the German-American community of Western New York remain strong - the Annual German Christmas Mass, for instance, is at all times attended by more than two-hundred parishioners. It should come as no surprise then that to this day many of the more than 300,000 individuals of German ancestry in Erie County refer to Canisius as "The German College" of Buffalo.

Students in NYCA telling example for the generous support the German-American community of WNY offers Canisius' German program and her students is the James J. McGoldrick Scholarship for Excellence in German or the Father Finnegan, SJ, Endowed Scholarship. These scholarships, together with the recently established German Studies Educational Fund, assist Canisius' talented and dedicated German majors financially, and also provide resources for extra-curricular events like study tours to the German American Chamber of Commerce in New York City, or visits to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Toronto International Film Festival.