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Diocesan Cultural Diversity Celebration comes with surprises

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Cheryl Calire, executive director of the Office of Pastoral Ministries, takes a moment during the Cultural Diversity Celebration to honor Milagros Ramos, founding director of the Office of Cultural Diversity. Ramos served the diocese for 33 years before retiring last year.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher delivers a talk at the diocesan Cultural Diversity Celebration at Samuel’s Grande Manor on Oct. 15. The bishop called his experiences working in culturally rich parishes as a “defining moment” in his priestly ministry.

After a long time in the planning stages, the diocese’s first Cultural Diversity Celebration finally took place. The Oct. 15 dinner dance held at Samuel’s Grande Manor in Clarence introduced members of the African, African American and Hispanic Latino commissions, which address the social, economic and spiritual concerns of those communities.

Guest speaker Bishop Michael W. Fisher revealed that as a pastor in Maryland, he served four years in a mostly African American parish and 16 years in a predominately Latino parish. He called the experience a “defining moment” in his ministry.

“What we honor and celebrate this evening is the richness of your faith, experiences and witness, and especially how essential you are to our local Church here in Western New York. As you are aware, the nation has come to a reckoning with the realities of its past and the unfinished work of defeating racism and vice in however subtle and latently we continue to experience it. Pope Francis has appropriately described it as a sin that we must do everything in our power to defeat. As such, it’s not time for passive response. Instead the moment requires us to speak out, to stand up for equality and justice to assert the God-given dignity of all people.”

As one of several surprises for the evening, Cheryl Calire, executive director of the Office of Pastoral Ministries, which oversaw the event, welcomed Milagros Ramos, founding director of the Office of Cultural Diversity, to the podium.

The two became close friends after Ramos served as interpreter for Calire at the World Meeting of Families in 2015.

Rodney Richardson (left) shakes hands with Richard Suchan at the diocese’s first Cultural Diversity Celebration. Richardson is a member of the African American Commission. Suchan is the recently-named COO of the Diocese of Buffalo. (Photos by Patrick J. Buechi)

“We had a wonderful time and really got to bond with one another. At that time, I got to know Milagros, not only as a co-worker, but as the wonderful human being that she is,” Calire said before presenting Ramos with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of 33 years of service to the diocese. Ramos was also given a cross of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a bouquet of blue roses.

in another surprise, Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, announced that the Ladies Auxiliary of Peter Claver will be reestablished in the Diocese of Buffalo. Along with the Knights of Peter Claver, the fraternal organization is the oldest and largest Black Catholic lay organization. The Buffalo council was founded in 1946, but declined around 1979. Calire presented Sister Roberta with a $1,000 check for the organization. An initiation for new members took place the following day. The evening closed with most of those gathered dancing to funk grooves and Afro-Cuban beats.

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