Catholic Charities announces appeal goal, says tragedies raise the need
Catholic Charities is celebrating its centennial in 2023, while holding its 99th annual appeal.
This year’s goal, announced Jan. 5, is $9.5 million. That’s the same goal which was set and met in 2022. But while the goal remains unchanged from the previous year, officials formally launching the 2023 Appeal say the public’s need has escalated in recent weeks and months.
“Our community is reeling with losses, tragedies, reminding us how fragile life is,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. “Less than two weeks (ago) a generational blizzard damaged homes and heartbreakingly robbed 42 people of life. A fire took five very young lives and left their grandmother in critical condition. And a devastating injury has a young Buffalo Bills player fighting for his life. These all come after we continue to heal from the horrific Tops shooting that took place just a few miles from here.”
Dr. Adam Sumlin, who is chairing this year’s appeal, expressed confidence that the goal will again be met, buoyed this year by the centennial celebration. He noted that the first appeal, in 1924, set a goal of approximately $262,000, but raised more than $325,000. He estimates nearly a half billion dollars have been raised since that inaugural drive.
Funds raised support Catholic Charities’ 57 programs and services provided at 80 locations.
“Last year alone, more than 134,000 Western New Yorkers sought help through Catholic Charities,” Sumlin said. “From feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, to strengthening families and assisting with physical and mental wellness, to advancing one’s education and workforce readiness skills, to delivering assistance in a variety of forms to our immigrant and refugee populations, the hope Catholic Charities provides is evident on the faces of so many across our community. Community support through the annual appeal is crucial.”
Funds raised during the appeal also support many of the Diocese of Buffalo’s ministries through the Fund for the Faith. These spiritual programs include campus ministry, cultural diversity, hospital chaplaincies, Catholic education, deaf ministry, faith formation, marriage preparation, the Mother Teresa Home and the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Centers.
“The ministries carried out by Catholic Charities and the diocesan Fund for the Faith are a true gift to individuals and families from every walk of life,” said Bishop Michael W. Fisher. “As Christians, as Catholics, our most fundamental call is to love one another. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus gives us the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us to love one another, as he has loved us. We fulfill this call, in our homes, at our jobs, in our places of worship, and in the community. When we see a person or a family in need, we offer support and provide a gesture of comfort to help ensure their most basic needs can be met. Supporting the appeal is a way to fulfill this call.”
The bishop added that as Catholic Charities celebrates a centennial this year, Fund for the Faith has completed 85 years of aiding Western New Yorkers. The fund was established by Bishop John Duffy in 1937.
Catholic Charities leaders also announced that the patron for the 2023 Appeal is Venerable Nelson Baker, who co-signed the letters of incorporation for Catholic Charities back in 1923, and is known for his establishment of Our Lady of Victory charities in Lackawanna.
Reflecting on the many tragedies and traumatic events which have touched Buffalo and Western New York in recent months, Deacon Schumer suggested that in spite of, or perhaps because of these adversities, signs of hope, strength and unity emerged throughout the community.
Bishop Fisher echoed those remarks, and when asked for words of encouragement for the people of Buffalo, he urged them to “keep their chins up, and pray.”
He was also asked for his thoughts about the turn to prayer by many people in response to multiple crises.
“Well, isn’t that what we do? I think that’s an innate nature that we have,” the bishop replied. “It’s the divine nature that God gives to every human being, to turn to our God for help, His consolation, His hope, but also seeing God and each other, and coming together in that way.”
Donations to Catholic Charities may be made by visiting their website, or by texting GIVEHOPE 23 to 44321. The appeal’s printed materials also feature a QR code that individuals may scan to initiate a donation.
Listen to Michael Mroziak’s report from Catholic Charities.