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Catholic Life

Upon This Rock continues to aid parishes and education

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The diocesan Upon This Rock campaign kicked off five years ago. Its mission to raise $100 million for parishes, retired priests and Catholic education continues to this day.

Officially begun in February 2016, the unprecedented capital campaign had the goal of serving three pillars: Those We Serve – parishes; Those Who Serve – investing in the education of priests, deacons and lay leaders, as well as contributing to health care costs of retired priests; and How We Serve – supporting Catholic Charities and Catholic education efforts.

It has also created a $12 million tuition assistance endowment to allow the diocese to provide aid to a far greater number of elementary and high school students. Another $3 million investment in STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum and technology enhancements, leadership and professional development, was designed to make all of the diocese’s schools top-choice destinations for parents who desire the best possible education for their children.

An additional $13 million in funding from Upon This Rock is available to all parishes to assist with lifelong faith formation, evangelization and catechesis programs and is available to all parishes and ministries through a grant application process.

Richard Suchan, executive director of The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, has been overseeing the campaign since the start. “It has exceeded my expectations,” he said. “Our donors have been very good, very loyal and very honorable in recognizing their pledge commitments.”

Parishes receive 35 percent of the money they raise. About $20 million has already been paid to the parishes. Our Lady of Hope on Buffalo’s West Side used funds to purchase the supplies for a community vegetable garden. Immaculate Conception in Eden used money raised to replace the boiler system in the church and school. St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Cheektowaga also made necessary repairs to its boilers, and upgraded the parish computers. St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany used funds to pour a much-needed cement sidewalk to replace the brick walkway which had become a tripping hazard. Good Shepherd Parish in Pendleton put their money towards keeping the physical structures of its 11 buildings in good condition. Holy Trinity in Dunkirk will soon begin repairing its cupola.

During the past year, as Mass attendance has been limited, several parishes have invested in technology to livestream their services. Programs for youth and young adults have also been popular uses for the grants.

“Beyond the parishes, we’ve made some pretty intensive investments in tuition assistance for Catholic education, STREAM in schools. We’ve helped out the Mother Teresa Home with the initial campaign proceeds,” Suchan said.

There is also an emergency fund for parishes that has only been used once for a busted boiler at Our Lady of Black Rock.

Five percent of funds were earmarked to support seminarians, deacon candidates and lay ecclesial education at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. Those funds will now be used to support the seminarians from Buffalo who currently study at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, and diaconate candidates and lay ecclesial students who now learn remotely from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester. Courts have approved the repurpose of funds originally stated to go to Christ the King, to still support education, just at different institutions.

“My philosophy has been, we don’t support a place, we support a process – the process of formation,” Suchan explained. “It was never about cutting the lawn or patching the roof. It was about forming men for the priesthood, men for the diaconate, and men and women to be lay leaders of the Church.”

Money from the Upon This Rock campaign will not go to the diocese for legal defense. UTR funds are distributed by the Foundation which is a separate non-profit entity. Funds can only go to Catholic programs such as food pantries, shelters and social service programs recognized as a Catholic entity.

 “The parishes have been really good stewards of the money we’ve given back to them,” said Suchan. “Overall, it was a very good thing for the diocese.”

Visit www.frcdb.org and click on the grants tab for applications and guidelines.

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