Bishop Richard J. Malone announced that $8,546,086.80 has been raised. Although encouraging, donations trail last year by about 2 percent.
"There is much work to do still to achieve our final $10.9 million goal," Bishop Malone said.
Just last Tuesday, Catholic Charities announced $7.43 million had been raised, leaving them $5,000 short of where they wanted to be.
"At that time I promised a full-court press to help ensure a successful conclusion to this year's campaign," the bishop said. "This past weekend, hundreds of volunteers and pastors and parish chairs and their teams were back in action helping to raise funds that will allow Catholic Charities to continue to impact the lives of more than 142,000 Western New Yorkers, Catholic and non-Catholic alike."
Bishop Malone, now on his third Catholic Charities appeal for Buffalo, commented that the number in need goes up every year.
Jake Schneider, who co-chaired this year's appeal with his wife, Katie, thanked the youth of the diocese for their creative and innovation fundraising efforts. Several youth groups hosted Bowling for Hope parties. Blessed Sacrament School in Depew celebrated Pi Day on March 14 by selling tickets to throw a pie in the face of their teachers. Nardin Academy in Buffalo held a basket raffle. Confirmation students from Our Lady of Czestochowa, North Tonawanda, held a traditional fish fry.
"We've seen wonderful examples of leadership among our young people in our diocese," said Schneider. "They're coming up with really creative tactics to help move Catholic Charities along."
Students from St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, which led the secondary school division for a number of years, presented a check to Bishop Malone for $6,500. They raised funds with a simple collection.
The unprecedented weather of this past winter and the early appeal week that coincides with Easter has received the blame for this year's low response from donors.
"We know we had a tough winter in town. There are a lot of snowbirds who have been effected by the weather, who maybe haven't arrived back in town yet," said Schneider.
Western New York's economy and decreasing population also contribute to the slow response.
"Every year we decrease slightly the number of donors," said Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, diocesan director of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. "Approximately 6,000 Catholics are buried every year. Catholic Charities has lost almost 2,000 donors. We're getting a larger share of a smaller market. That's the situation. There are not as many Catholics. They're not as conscious about registering in the parishes. It's from the registered parishioners that we receive the donor list. So, it's a challenge. We've been able to continue because the per person gift increases every year. People are very generous."
For Christians, Lent is a time of renewal, sacrifice and grace by showing concern for others through gifts of charity.
"Your continued generosity is much needed and greatly appreciated. Your gifts are an indication that you are willing to help us find the good within ourselves and one another, and also an expression of your willingness to look even more closely and find God in everyone. May God bless your efforts," Bishop Malone said.
Online donations can be made atwww.ccwny.org.