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Catholic Diocese of Buffalo sets sights on $100 million in goals

Enroll more children to attend Catholic elementary schools through tuition assistance.

Spread the Catholic message in order to boost membership within the church.

Establish endowments so future efforts will be supported.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo on Thursday announced the start of a new campaign to work on those goals, and more than a half-dozen others.

But to accomplish them, the diocese says, it needs to raise $100 million.

While about a third of the money would go back to parishes for their individual needs, the rest of the money would support the long-term needs of the diocese through endowments, Bishop Richard J. Malone said during the announcement at Cardinal O’Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda.

“I have faith in our future and I tell you with confidence today that because of the sacrifice of those who came before us and the responsible choices our faithful have made in recent years, our Catholic Church in Western New York stands ready to face the future,” Malone said.

“The time is now for us to move from maintenance mode and refocus on our mission.”

Gathering donations on this scale would be the single largest effort of its kind in the diocese’s history, the bishop said, but the amount has been supported by feasibility and planning studies, as well as the Priests’ Advisory Committee.

The five-year campaign has been dubbed “Upon This Rock,” and the silent portion of the campaign and pilot programs at eight parishes have already raised about $29 million, officials said.

The diocese listed the financial goals for each element to be funded by the campaign, many of which would be in the form of endowments.

They include $2 million for the establishment of the Mother Teresa Home, a transitional residence for homeless pregnant women and young mothers; $7 million for the health care of retired priests; $2 million for campus ministry programs; $2 million to “sustain the vitality” of St. Joseph Cathedral; $3 million for classroom and technology upgrades and improving retreat and religious celebration space at Christ the King Seminary; a $5 million endowment for the seminary; $12 million for tuition assistance at elementary schools; a $10 million endowment for Catholic Charities.

Fundraising efforts for the campaign are expected to continue through the summer of 2017. Each parish will undertake its own campaign.

With the funds allocated to them, local parishes would be able to fix a roof, repair a boiler or undertake other work that may be specific to them.

The campaign also will provide significant dollars to support church programs years down the road, said Thomas R. Beecher, co-chairman of the campaign.

“This project is about what we can do for it right now and what can do for the future,” Beecher said.

“What we can do for our parishes and what we can do for each other.”