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Buffalo Diocese Consolidation Plan Creates Challenges for Catholic Charities Appeal

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Catholic Charities of Buffalo is facing what could be a very difficult fundraising appeal. The Campaign seeks to raise eleven million dollars at the same time parishioners are bracing to hear about a list of school and church closings.

Last year, about 160,000 people across western New York came to Catholic Charities for help. They were hungry, in need of counseling, shelter and food, or needed help beginning their lives again.

But news that some cherished parish communities will soon be altered could cloud those needs.

Father Joseph Sicari is Diocesan Director for Catholic Charities. He asked the community to remember the importance of the Appeal.

Church officials acknowledge that the goal, which is one percent higher than last year, is ambitious. But they said it is critical they meet the goal to pay for the wide array of services provided.

David Uba is campaign chairman for the 2007 Appeal. He said they will reach out to new potential donors, including those who do not regularly attend mass and non-Catholics.

Uba said they will also work to make sure people understand the Appeal is a separate concern from the Diocese consolidation plan.

But Church officials acknowledge the timing of the two events is difficult.

Still, they said there was no thought of delaying the consolidation announcements until after the Appeal. Bishop Edward Kmiec said that would have been disingenuous.

Kmiec said last year's Appeal went into "overtime" to reach its goal. But he said they are hopeful this year's fundraiser will wrap up in "regulation time." It begins March 25 and ends April 1.

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