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Diocese of Buffalo launches 're-envision' initiative, may lead to mergers of churches & schools

Posted at 6:13 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 18:13:19-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Diocese of Buffalo announced Friday an initiative to re-envision the Catholic Church of Western New York, which may lead to potential mergers of churches and schools.

The initiative will be focused on re-envisioning the mission of the Catholic Church in Western New York as well bringing about diocesan-wide renewal.

“We have no more urgent priority than to reassert the vital relevance, role and tremendous impact of our Catholic faith in serving so many needs across Western New York,” said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. “The very harsh realities that have caused so much hurt and disappointment and damaged credibility in recent years must in no way obscure the vitality of our parish communities."

The diocese says it will work closely with pastors and parish leaders to create a structured decision-making process to ensure resources are focused on the church's essential mission. A thorough assessment of all aspects of ministries and operations will take place as well.

"The process will involve conducting a thorough assessment of all aspects of Catholic ministries and operations, looking closely at the current construct of parishes and schools; identifying resources that are able to be shared and leveraged more broadly; identifying underlying financial and operational strengths and weaknesses; and making decisions about the long-term viability of parishes and schools, as well as other programs carried out at the Diocesan level."

According to the diocese, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated financial challenges parishes were facing which has led the diocese to identify options for potential mergers of parishes and schools. The diocese is also working to identify partnerships with organizations and donors committed to catholic education and ministries determined to be vital.

“The responsibility for Catholic education must be seen as an equal one, which begins in the home and which is then supported in our parishes, and promoted by our dedicated teachers, priests, religious and other mentors throughout early childhood and into adulthood,” said Bishop Scharfenberger. “Although we recognize the obligation to live within our means, we are not relinquishing our greater obligation to promote a culture that truly reflects Christ’s Gospel of love, caring and relentless service to young and old alike.”

The initiative will be led by the Diocese’s newly-appointed Chief Operating Officer, Sister Mary McCarrick, OFM, Msgr. David LiPuma, Chair of the Presbyteral Council, and Mr. James J. Beardi, Chair of the Diocesan Finance Council.