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Catholic diocese celebrates as capital campaign exceeds $100 million goal

Contributors have donated or pledged $107 million to the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, exceeding a capital campaign goal of $100 million set in 2015.

Bishop Richard J. Malone announced the final tally Monday evening in the Catholic Center on Main Street.

"Raising $107 million by Western New Yorkers for Western New York has never been done before," Malone said in a statement thanking nearly 27,000 donors.

The amount includes pledges to be collected over the next five years, as well as planned giving bequests.

The campaign, called "Upon This Rock," enlisted all of the 163 parishes in the eight-county diocese to solicit gifts from parishioners. The funds will be used to help improve Catholic evangelization and teaching efforts; support Christ the King Seminary, health care for retired priests, and St. Joseph Cathedral; and establish endowments to assist Catholic Charities and Catholic education.

The campaign began in 2015 with a quiet phase in eight pilot parishes that generated $8 million, as well as more than $15 million in "leadership" gifts. The public phase began in February 2016.

Parishes were given fundraising targets based upon three-year averages of their offertory incomes and Catholic Charities Appeal numbers.


Upon This Rock proceeds helped pay for interior renovations at St. Mark Catholic Church in North Buffalo. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)


More than a third of parishes met or exceeded their targets. The area's largest Catholic parish, St. Gregory the Great in Amherst, generated the most gifts, with 954, for $4,743,200, or 82 percent of its target. The next largest amount came from St. Joseph University Church, which raised $2,564,489, or 141 percent of its goal, from 456 parishioners.

The diocese consists of about 600,000 Catholics in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Malone has said the campaign was necessary to help the Catholic church in Western New York thrive well into the future. It was the single largest fundraising effort since the diocese was created in 1847.

The campaign was set up so that parishes would be able to get back 35 percent of their contributions to use for projects, programs or ministries of their choosing. Parishes that exceeded their campaign targets received another 55 cents on every dollar raised over the target.

Nearly $4 million already has been returned to parishes, some of which used the money to pay for overdue facilities or maintenance work on churches and other buildings.

Other allocations included: $2 million for the Mother Teresa Home, a transitional residence for homeless pregnant women and young mothers; $13 million for an endowment dedicated to efforts aimed at boosting church membership and participation; $8 million toward the seminary endowment fund; $7 million for health care for retired priests; $2 million an endowment for St. Joseph Cathedral; $10 million toward the Catholic Charities endowment; and $17 million for Catholic education, including $12 million for tuition assistance programs, $3 million for enhancements to STREAM education (Science, Technology, Religion, English, Arts and Mathematics) in schools, and $2 million for campus ministry.

Monday's event included the dedication of a new statue in the lobby of the Catholic Center to commemorate the generosity of the area's Catholic community.

The statue by glass artist Victor Trabucco and his son Jon will be on permanent display at the Catholic Center. It was underwritten by restaurateur and philanthropist Russell Salvatore.

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