Share this article

print logo

Diocese embarks on an ambitious effort to strengthen its far-reaching mission

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo’s launch of “Upon This Rock,” a five-year, $100 million capital and endowment campaign, will help strengthen the core of an important institution in the region.

The diocese is embarking for the first time on such a large-scale effort for good reason: to support its long-term needs. It is a good strategy in light of the demographic changes and a population shift away from city neighborhoods, where century-old houses of worship still stand, many empty.

The diocese created much controversy in recent years as it downsized in reaction to the loss of parishioners. Its “Journey in Faith and Grace” was the pastoral plan to close churches and reconfigure some parishes. “Faith in Tomorrow” closed the doors of many elementary schools.

Now the diocese is embarking upon what it bills as a transformation that is designed to forestall the need for any further consolidation.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, in making the announcement at Cardinal O’Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda, talked about a Catholic Church in Western New York that “stands ready to face the future.”

The plan calls for increasing tuition assistance to allow more children to attend Catholic elementary schools, spreading the Catholic message in an effort to boost membership in the church and establishing endowments to support future efforts.

An ambitious goal has been set, and although the silent portion of the campaign and pilot programs at eight parishes have already raised about $29 million, there are miles to go.

Malone wrote about how to get there in a recent Another Voice column: “With the partnership of our clergy and lay leaders, each of our 164 parishes will participate in the campaign, and every Catholic household will be asked to consider participation.”

Local parishes would be given funds, a third of the money, to ensure sustainability into the future. There are financial goals for each of the campaign’s elements, many in the form of endowments.

A few of the specifics: $2 million for the establishment of the Mother Teresa Home, a transitional residence for homeless pregnant women and young mothers; a $10 million endowment for Catholic Charities, which is an invaluable contributor to the overall health of the community; $2 million for campus ministry programs; $2 million for St. Joseph Cathedral; and $12 million for elementary school tuition assistance.

Fundraising efforts are set to continue through the summer of 2017, with each parish undertaking its own campaign. The diocese has set a difficult goal, one that will strengthen it for new challenges going forward.