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Buffalo hosts Ladies of Charity national assembly

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The Ladies of Charity USA chose Buffalo as the site of their 2023 national assembly, held Sept. 7-9. As a reminder of the 10 victims of racial hatred killed last year at the Tops shooting, “We Choose Love” served as a theme.

Holly Walter, Ladies of Charity USA president, welcomes over 200 volunteers to the LCUSA national assembly in Buffalo. (Photo courtesy of the Ladies of Charity USA)

The annual conference includes prayer, reflection, talks, and camaraderie.

Cheryl Calire, director of the Office of Pro-Life Ministries, spoke on what she knows best – life issues. Marian Snyder, a volunteer for the Ladies of Charity of Buffalo, suggested Calire as a speaker who could educate and enlighten the more than 200 guests from across the country.

“I chose to talk a little bit about my personal testimony, so that people could understand that I am no different than any of the women that were attending this conference,” Calire said. “I tried to get a point across that regardless of what they’re doing – that is really awesome and continue doing it – and think about what it is that they might be able to do or take back to their diocese based on some of the things that we were able to do here in one of the most difficult states in the United States to do pro-life work, that they might not themselves go back and start a ministry, but they might be able to inspire somebody in their diocese to at least think about ways in which they would be able to reach those that are in need that don’t have support.”

Calire explained that the pro-life issue is not about politics, but about helping the human condition and supporting others.  

“When I do post-abortive healing ministry, nobody ever tells me that they chose to terminate a pregnancy because it was a choice that they decided to make that morning. Rather, they didn’t feel like they had a choice. So, I turned that around in my talk to say, how could we be that person? How could we be that approachable person that somebody would talk to and look for help or look for assistance or look for support or look for somebody to talk to before they decide to make that decision, coming from a non-judgmental, more of a from love,” Calire said. 

Bishop Michael W. Fisher meets and greets some of the Ladies of Charity who volunteer across the country to help those in need. (Photo courtesy of the Ladies of Charity USA)

“People generally want to help other people,” Calire continued. “They may not have the same amount of time and hours and energy to commit as the people who are leading, but if they can understand and believe in the mission, they will find time, whether it’s an hour a week or an hour a month or whatever it is, to physically volunteer and or donate financially. There’s always something for somebody to do and people generally believe in family, children and ways in which we can help them.”

“Some of the women that I talked to that attended your session were very impressed with your sharing of your whole experience with them,” Snyder told Calire. “It was a nice personal touch. They could relate to that, that you were willing to share your experiences with them on a personal level.”

Other speakers for the Sept. 6-9 conference included keynote speaker Sister Ellen LeCaprio, who spoke on “Who is My Neighbor” and the parable of the Good Samaritan; Susan Montgomery-Clark of the Megan Montgomery Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama, who spoke on domestic violence; Kelly Diane Galloway, founder and president of Project Mona’s House in Buffalo, spoke on human trafficking; Toni Taylor, director of housing and peer services at Recovery Options Made Easy, talked about mental illness; Shyam Sriam, from Canisius College spoke on refugee resettlement; and Dennis Walczyk, former president/CEO of Catholic Charities, spoke on social justice programs at St. Joseph University Parish in Buffalo.

The Ladies of Charity began over 400 years ago in France under St. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Merillac with a mission to reach out and help those in need in the community. Locally, the Ladies of Charity work in tandem with Catholic Charities. Volunteers collect and sort donations at the store located at 1122 Broadway.

Julie Lulek, who is the senior director of Catholic Charities in Buffalo, serves as executive director of the Ladies of Charity. Currently, Holly Walter from Lancaster is the national president of the Ladies in Charity of the USA.

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