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Three key people in diocesan finance to retire in new year


The new year will see a new life for three veterans of the Catholic Center who will retire Jan. 3.

Charles Mendolera, director of administration and finance, is stepping down after just over 18 years with the Diocese of Buffalo. Carol Daruszka, assistant to internal audit, is leaving after 14 years. Susan Lengyel, the accounts receivable coordinator for 18 years, will train her replacement before leaving the office.

Charles Mendolera, Susan Lengyel and Carol Daruszka prepare to cut the cake at their office retirement party. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“We’re grateful for your service in the diocese. Hopefully, this next phase of your life is going to be a restful one,” said Bishop Michael W. Fisher during a farewell party at the downtown office.

During a conversation with the WNYCatholic news site, the three reflected on their time with the diocesan finance office.

“It’s been fantastic. I would highly recommend a not-for-profit to anyone in career development,” Mendolera said. “I think it’s much more family oriented, more people oriented. You feel more committed to the work you’re doing. You feel there is a purpose there. The community is benefiting from it, not just the shareholders.”

He came to the diocese after 30 years in the wholesale/retail food business.

“I wanted to do something that would give back to the community, where there was a mission I thought I could stand behind, as opposed to worrying about profitability,” he said.

He looks back at the family environment he found at 795 Main St. His co-workers have led him to art exhibits, baseball games and even a mixed martial arts match.

“It’s those kinds of things you don’t get exposed to in corporate, as opposed to being part of the family here,” he said. “That’s the stuff I value, the actual people relationships.”

Lengyel, who spent five years in the Air Force, came to the diocese after a former co-worker at Brand Names sent in her resume without her knowledge.

“I think the reasons they hired me was that I worked with the AS 400 before (the in-house computer program),” she said.

Daruska assisted the internal auditors as she worked at St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Hamburg. When a position opened in the diocese, her name was brought up. Internal audit does routine audits of parishes. Daruska considers their work to be “customer service.” She has built strong working relationships with the staffs of parish offices.

“That’s one of the things I’m going to miss the most; the connections that I had with our eight counties and our 161 parishes,” she said.

 “I’m going to miss all the priests that I dealt with. When they retired, they would come in here and I would give them their paperwork. I’ve maintained a lot of relationships with them,” Lengyel added.

Ellen Musialowski, who joined the diocese as chief financial officer in February, will now head the Finance Office.

Mendolera originally planned to retire four years ago, but decided to stay as the diocese faced Chapter 11 reorganization.

“There was no possible way a new person could come in and continue that flow, work with the bankruptcy court to accomplish what we needed to accomplish at the time. I didn’t feel right about leaving at that time,” he said of his decision to stay. “I’m confident now that we are far enough in the bankruptcy process that we’re pretty stable, and we’re going to be getting to the point where most of the documents have been prepared. I think the diocese is in a real good place in terms of moving on.”