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Bishop Fisher Features Ministry

Curé of Ars offers good times and good news for those in the Church


Good news and joy abounded at the annual Curé of Ars Award banquet. Two pillars of the diocese received well-deserved recognition, the Vocations director gave a hopeful report, and someone walked away with a Josh Allen jersey.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher (center) meets with Rick Heist, past recipient of the Curé of Ars Award, and this year’s recipients Father James Croglio and Sister Patricia Burkard, OSF, along with Vocations director, Father David Baker. This year’s Curé of Ars dinner took place at Salvatore’s on Oct. 5. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

The Oct. 5 event, sponsored by the Foundation for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, honored those who reflect the qualities of Christian dedication and service that marked the life of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. The award is presented to individuals and organizations committed to healing those in need of God’s reconciling love, a willingness to contribute their gifts towards pastoral care, and a commitment to the Church as an instrument for the divine-human encounter.

Awardees this year included Father James Croglio, director of the Diocesan Counseling Center for Church Ministers, and Sister Patricia Burkard, OSF, former general minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and major superior to the Third Order Franciscan Sisters of Williamsville.

Father Croglio has been at the Counseling Center for 35 years. Part of his ministry is conducting evaluations for men entering the seminary and permanent diaconate.

“It’s been the best work. The best people in the world have been the people that have come to our Counseling Center,” he said. “The priests, sisters, religious, seminarians of our diocese are just wonderful people. It’s a privilege to have worked with them.”

Father Croglio celebrated the evening with his two sisters, a brother, a brother-in-law, and nieces and nephews in attendance. His 102-year-old mother could not make it

“She knows about it and she was happy about it so it’s great to be with my family too,” he said.

Sister Patricia was honored for her leadership in raising awareness of the work of religious men and women. Under her direction, four communities of Franciscan sisters merged to form one new community. Sister Pat was also extremely instrumental in promoting the canonization of Mother Marianne Cope, OSF who was known for her charitable works and work. Following in Mother Marianne Cope’s footsteps, Sister Patricia and her community were influential in forming what is now Catholic Health along with several other religious women in health care ministries. Sister Patricia received papal honors from Pope Benedict XVI for her distinguished leadership.

“When I first learned that the focus of this year’s award was to raise awareness of the work of women and men religious, I was delighted,” she said.

Along with Catholic Health, many communities of women religious took on the challenge of establishing Gerard Place, a center that provides safe housing for single mothers and children, and offers food distribution, educational programs, and job training.

“When I began to get involved, I tried to find out all I could learn to be a good person in working with these people in need,” Sister Patricia said in her acceptance speech.

She looked for mentors and role models, and found three Henry’s and a Joyce. “All who brought energy and dedication to their involvement in many aids and needs.”

Bishop Henry Mansell; Msgr. Henry Gugino, director of Catholic Charities; Henry Lobl, CEO of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital of Niagara Falls; and Joyce Fink, a local Catholic philanthropist.

“I and the sisters in Western New York have been very fortunate to be able to learn from some of these master people who had great devotion to caring for the poor, but also for people who cared,” Sister Patricia said.

WBBZ-TV’s John DiSciullo serves as auctioneer while guests bid on an autographed Josh Allen jersey at the Curé of Ars dinner on Oct. 5. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

Seminarian C.J. Wild, now serving his pastoral year with Family of Parishes #28, benefits directly from the Curé of Ars banquet.

“Since I said yes to the Lord to pursue this vocation to the priesthood, I have been treated with such warmth and hospitality and true charity, really, by everyone involved – the vocation director, by our bishop, by my priest mentors, and certainly by the seminary faculty and the formators down at St. Mary’s in Baltimore,” the Lancaster-native said. “We were welcomed with open arms by the seminary. The faculty formators down there, they bent over backwards to make sure that we felt appreciated, to make sure that we were adjusting well, to make sure that we were comfortable in our learning and formation environment. And I’ve really made a lot of great friends down there from various dioceses. It’s been a blessing not only to me as a young man discerning, but also just as a young man trying to be a good disciple, that I’ve been able to make so many good friends and spend time in prayer, spend time getting close to the Lord, studying theology and philosophy. I really could not be more grateful for the way that the diocese and the benefactors of the diocese have made this possible for me.”

He offered a special thanks to those who support the seminarians, not just with monetary donations, but with their time and prayers.

During dinner, Father David Baker, director of Vocations for the diocese, gave a picture of the current state of vocations, including promising interest in joining the priesthood.

“I can definitely say we have excellent men in formation,” Father Baker said. “We just need more of them.”

Four men recently asked for an application, which pleased Father Baker. They could join the seven men already in formation.

“We look forward to ordaining Sebastian Aristizabal next year. We have John Willett coming up behind him. And C.J. Wild is with us right now. He’s on a pass for a year doing great work and getting to learn some real boots on the ground sort of experience. And then we have men in pre-theology. And of course, two men starting in our new propaedeutic program (a period of time to develop habits of prayer, study, fraternity and trust). And so please continue your prayers. That’s the most important thing. I always wonder when we get a sudden uptick in numbers, is this a blip or a trend? And I’m praying for a trend that this new wave of applications will continue to grow.”

WBBZ-TV’s John DiSciullo hosted a live auction during the latter part of the evening that saw an autographed jersey from Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, and several Salvatore’s dinner packages going to donors who pledged more than $1,000 per item.


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