Unlike some Christian churches which tend to be self-contained, self-sufficient and freestanding, our Catholic parishes are distinct faith communities within the larger Church community that we call the diocese. For us Catholics of Western New York, the "Diocese of Buffalo" is another way of speaking about the entire Roman Catholic community of our eight counties - all of the people (laity, religious, priests and deacons), as well as our parishes, schools, colleges and universities, health care and human service ministries, and so much more.
Often people assume that "the diocese" means "downtown" - 795 Main Street in Buffalo. Nothing is further from the truth. 795 Main Street is simply the location of the Catholic Center, the administrative headquarters of the bishop and the various departments, ministries and offices that serve the many and varied dimensions of the mission of the Church here in Western New York. One hundred forty-three good people - laity, religious and clergy - work in the Catholic Center. I am so grateful for their faithful service to our Church. You should be, too.
Sometimes I hear people ask, "What is the money our parish sends downtown used for? How does it help us in our parish?" An important question. Let me list just a few examples of the ways parish contributions to the diocese are used to assist parishes and other ministries:
- Lifelong faith formation program support
- Youth and young adult ministry programming, that is our annual youth convention
- Televised Mass
- Hospital and nursing homes apostolate
- Formation of seminarians, deacon and lay ecclesial ministry candidates for future pastoral ministry and leadership
- Parish administrative support for buildings consultations, that is, property sales, lease negotiations, legal counsel
- Parish audits to provide guidance to parish trustees and finance committees in discharging their fiduciary responsibilities
- Parish personnel issues consultation from Human Resources
- Pension, health, dental and auto insurance benefits for our retired priests, who have given a lifetime of service to parishioners
Space limitations prevent me from listing many other ways your parishes support diocesan ministries and offices resources throughout the diocese.
I take this opportunity to thank pastors and other parish leaders, as well as every active parishioner, for the ways your support of the diocese strengthens the life and ministry of your parish. Your generosity to Catholic Charities, various national collections, including the remarkable annual Retirement Fund for Religious, is inspiring.
Remember, it is only together that we are the Church!