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Wellsville businessman pledges largest donation ever to Catholic Charities

Wellsville business executive Charles P. "Charlie" Joyce on Thursday reminded Catholic Charities donors to “remember those in need.”

Then he put his wallet where his words are by contributing a record $350,000 to push the drive within 81% of its $11 million goal.

And he wasn’t done yet. Before the morning was over, he would add with another sizable donation to help the sluggish drive.

“I will donate another $100,000 that can be used for matching donations to try and pick up some of the slack just because I didn’t realize what the gap was,” Joyce said. “People who give smaller amounts will have their donation matched,” Joyce told those who gathered at the Catholic Charities Montante Center to hear the announcement.

Joyce is president of Otis Eastern Service, a pipeline and oil supply corporation that does business throughout the Northeast. He lives in Wellsville, and purchased the company with his father, Charles H. Joyce, in 1981. The business has taken him around the world.

Joyce credited his late father, who grew up on the family farm in Andover and began working in the oil and gas industry at the age of 14, as his inspiration.

“My father was the one who taught me to share from my blessings, to help people in need,” Joyce said. "In fact, Father’s Day is nearly here and it’s a perfect opportunity to honor our fathers for all they instilled in us.”

Joyce is a longtime contributor to Catholic Charities, and spreads his charitable efforts throughout Allegany County. He donated to Alfred and St. Bonaventure universities and has served on the boards of the United Way and Jones Memorial Hospital.

A major donor to the national Republican Party, Joyce is one of only two New Yorkers sitting on the Republican National Committee.

"We’ve given to the Catholic Charities for years," he said on Tuesday. "I’ve always admired how they spend their money. It’s right to the point. Remember what happens with the money and how desperate the needs are in our part of the country."

The Catholic Charities appeal has raised $8.9 million to date. To achieve its goal, the drive would need to raise $2.2 million before the closing date of June 30. The human services arm of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo launched its annual appeal in January to support 70 programs that benefit more than 150,000 people in Western New York. The Catholic Charities' goal is at the same level as the past three years.

The appeal is being conducted as the diocese continues to deal with fallout from a clergy sex abuse scandal. Bishop Richard J. Malone has said none of the money raised through the Catholic Charities appeal will be used to pay settlements to victims of the abuse.

Joyce, who was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, said the church serves an important role among people around the world. He admitted that locally it had suffered a devastating blow, but cautioned donors Catholic Charities has been true to its mission.

“I understand people worry that funds go in the pockets of lawyers,” Joyce said. “People who do have issues need to be compensated, and I’m 100% in favor of that, but that money needs to come from the church itself, not the charitable campaigns."

The diocese has offered more than $8 million in recent months to people sexually abused as children by priests, according to victims and lawyers who represent them. Diocese officials have declined to disclose the total amount offered in settlements, but said other sources of revenue, including the $1.5 million sale in March of the bishop's mansion on Oakland Place, will be used to pay the settlements.

Catholic Charities officials acknowledged the campaign is lagging in its fundraising total compared to this point in previous years.

“We are a behind, but we’re not giving up,” said John Daly, Catholic Charities appeal co-chair. “It’s the biggest gap we’ve had to close. I said all along with this appeal, 'Western New Yorkers are notorious for last-minute.' We are hoping that if you haven’t given yet, you will be inspired."

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