Catholic Charities of Buffalo on Wednesday announced it had exceeded its $10.6 million goal for the 2012 appeal by more than $100,000, with cash and pledges totaling $10,728,317.
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, presiding over his last Catholic Charities appeal event before turning the reins over to Bishop Richard Malone, recalled his first Catholic Charities appeal when, even then, he was well aware of the legendary generosity of those in the Western New York diocese: "Throughout the 2004 appeal and seven appeals that followed, I experienced the same immense generosity of the people of our community," Kmiec said.
"There are few dioceses in this country — and we have many of them but, certainly, none of our size and economic situation — that surpass the giving level here.
What a legacy of caring and compassion to carry on under our new bishop, Richard Malone, and for which you should always be so proud," Kmiec added.
During a news conference the Catholic Charities Montante Administrative Center, both Kmiec and 2012 Catholic Charities Appeal Chairman David Nasca remarked on the challenges facing Catholic Charities staff and its hundreds of volunteers as the diocese's traditional sources for donations continue to shrink.
"The population of Western New York and church members in our Buffalo Diocese has been declining annually as our population ages and people move out of the area," Nasca said.
"Within the diocese, there are approximately 6,000 funerals and about 3,000 baptisms each year. This year, I'm happy to report that even with this demographic trend, we've been highly successful for the second consecutive year in stemming significant donor loss," he added.
Last year, Nasca said, the Catholic Charities Appeal was down 2,300 donors from the year before, However, this year, donations picked up by about 1,400.
"That's a tremendous amount of progress," Nasca told senior staff and volunteers assembled for Wednesday's announcement. "We're also pleased to report a first for our corporate division, securing multiyear pledge commitments with yearly increases from several companies."
Also this year, he noted, the 395 students from St. Mark Catholic Elementary School in North Buffalo, including their families, faculty and staff from the school, raised $10,000 for this year's appeal.
"This is believed to be the largest elementary school donation in the appeal's history," Nasca said.
"Several parishes in our diocese also surpassed their 2011 total contributions and showed incredible commitment to the work of Catholic Charities," he added.
Catholic Charities also recognized two parishes and their pastors with framed certificates for exceeding their campaign goals.
"Contributions from St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville topped an amazing $716,878 this year, an increase of 13 percent over last year's significant total," said Nasca. "Allegany County, the second poorest county in New York state, became the first Western New York county to surpass its 2011 goal. This tremendous achievement was propelled by the success of Immaculate Conception parish in Wellsville, which raised just under $39,000 for this appeal, marking a 46.4 percent increase over its 2011 total."
Sister Mary McCarrick, Catholic Charities diocesan director, said 99 percent of its donations come through the parishes."We're so grateful for every one of our over 60,000 donors," McCarrick said.
In acknowledging what he called Kmiec's "victory lap," Nasca thanked the bishop for his eight years of supporting the Catholic Charities appeal.
"Just a few months ago," Nasca said, "during [Catholic Charities] appeal week, we surprised Bishop Kmiec with the renaming of the South Buffalo pantry and outreach site in his name. Rightfully, that gesture ensures that the spirit of one so humble, compassionate and generous will be carried on in our diocese for many years to come."