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Richard Suchan prepares to take on role of COO for Buffalo Diocese

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Richard C. Suchan welcomes guests to the annual Gala 22:6. As executive director of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, Suchan helped organize the fundraising event for Catholic schools. Photo courtesy of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo

Bishop Michael W. Fisher has appointed Richard C. Suchan to succeed Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, as chief operating officer of the Diocese of Buffalo, a position he will assume July 6. 

Currently executive director of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, Suchan established the successful Upon This Rock capital campaign that revamped the funding of Catholic mission and ministry programs within the Diocese.

“We look forward to continuing to benefit from Rick Suchan’s deep commitment, administrative talents and broad skillset in his new role as chief operating officer,” said Bishop Fisher. “As we continue our journey toward renewing Catholic faith and impact across the Diocese, Rick’s keen appreciation for the vital role that parishes and schools play, as well as his deep understanding of what is required to sustain and extend the varied pastoral ministries carried out each and every day across the Diocese will serve us well, particularly as we pursue the work of renewal.”

Prior to joining the Diocese of Buffalo in 2011, Suchan held numerous positions with several financial institutions in the community, having served as senior vice president and market manager with Key Private Bank, first vice president and manager of First Niagara Trust & Investment Services, as vice president and manager of M&T Bank Employee Benefit Practice Group, and as vice president and relationship manager of Fleet Private Bank. He earned his bachelor of science degree in Finance and History from Canisius College, as well as a master’s degree in Economics from SUNY Buffalo.

Suchan sat down with the Western New York Catholic to talk about his goals and thoughts since Bishop Fisher approached him about the role. Soft spoken and kind, and frequently with a big smile on his face, Suchan really seems like a person who looks forward to showing up to the office every day.

What does this job entail?

It’s really providing oversight, leadership and direction for many of the business and ministerial functions of the diocese. Overseeing finance, IT, payroll. And then the ministerial functions of evangelization, faith formation.

Richard Suchan receives the Beacon Award for the Catholic Media Conference & National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. Photo courtesy of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo

Will you be involved with the parishes at all?

Indirectly. Pastor appointments won’t be a responsibility. Hiring and firing at a parish level, not a responsibility. But some of the ministry functions, as they’re coordinated through the diocese. So, sacramental preparation, that type of thing.

How involved will you be in the Road to Renewal?

I’m getting up to speed. Quite honestly, before this, in my role overseeing the Foundation, there wasn’t much intersection. So, all I do now is read and go to meetings. I’m trying to get ready to jump on board when (my new role) becomes effective July 6.

You’ve been serving the diocese for 10 years, so you know it well. What do you think the strengths of the diocese are?

I think the diocese still has people of amazing faith, a lot of hope and expectation by many parishioners. I think we have a rich history. We have incredible social services programs, some very strong ministries. I think Bishop Fisher represents a whole new promise. I think he has certainly many challenges, but his energy, his willingness to include laity in his decision making going forward excites me very much.

What are some of the challenges that the diocese is facing or that you think you will be facing?

Helping bring stability both to employees and maybe the people who are on the fringes who have been waiting for change, a sense of renewal and hope. I’m really concerned about making employees of the Catholic Center feel valued and appreciated.

Do you have a five-year plan or a one-year plan?

Not yet. I’m really just getting into it, because I’m transitioning. It’s not effective until July. In the meantime, my focus is finding a successor for my role in the Foundation, getting to know the departments and divisions that will be reporting to me, instilling a sense of appreciation and stability, working proactively with the renewal process, and being a partner with Bishop Mike.

Is there anything you’d really like to see change dramatically, or that you feel really needs to change?

I think our Church does incredible good works every single day, whether it’s ladies in the Altar & Rosary Society, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul bringing aid and comfort to the poor, the works of Catholic Charities, but the media in general doesn’t report on those stories. I do think the Catholic Church is a beacon of hope, but all the negativity over the last three years seems to have the media’s eye, and there are many people out there who think so negatively of what we do. One of my objectives would be to see to it that those good news stories, those good works and the outcomes of our activities as a faith community get more focus in the media.

You’ve been working here for 10 years, probably the most difficult 10 years in the diocese’s history. What keeps you here and getting more involved?

Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than jumping out of bed in the morning and knowing that I have a new challenge, something new to learn, something new to tackle. I was extremely humbled and honored when the bishop asked me to consider this. I look forward to having opportunities to learn new things about the diocese, about the diocese’s business matters. I hope I’m never too old to stop learning. This is a whole new opportunity to see different facets of the operation of the Church that I was never exposed to before in my capacity here in the Foundation.

I’m greatly enthused and excited for the opportunity to have exposure and to be able to make a difference. I don’t ever really want to retire. This jazzes me. Working with new people, new problems to tackle. I find that really fun.

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