BY BILL WOLCOTT
Medina Journal-Register — Most Reverend Richard J. Malone recognizes raising money for Catholic Charities can be a very daunting chore, but the new bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo called the chore a gift while addressing local community volunteers Wednesday night in Lockport.
Christians have an obligation to love and care for their neighbors, he said and “Catholic Charities gives the instrument.”
About 25 men and women attended the workshop for parish appeal volunteers. Clergy and lay leaders, as well as Catholic Charities staff, were updated on what has changed and how to run a successful parish effort. They were given ideas for gaining new donors.
Malone made just his second visit to Lockport since being was installed as bishop on Aug. 10, 2012. His earlier visit was for the funeral of Father Louis Della Neve.
Malone, who had served as a bishop in Boston and Portland, Maine, said that the Buffalo Appeal has an excellent team.
”It’s the generosity of the people of Western New York who appreciate the dramatic needs in this area and who see that the charities in this area a very credible organizations,” Malone said. “I think that people believe in Catholic Charities. I think Catholic Charities is one thing we can be proudest of in the life of Catholic Church.”
Stephen Ulrich, a native of Lockport, is the Catholic Charities 2013 Appeal chairman. It’s his fourth, and last, year on the Appeal Team.
Building rapport with youth is one of the goals. “We’re going into schools. We’re trying to get schools involved,” he said. “DeSales in Lockport is doing a great job of spreading the mission of Catholic Charities their students. They are doing that now. We need to continue to do that, to reach out to our youth. It can be a jeans day, it can be a car wash, anything to help those is need. That money goes to services right in Lockport.”
Dennis Walczyk, who succeeds Ulrich as chief executive officer, said, “Having a youth chair lets people know that they are an important part of this, that we care about them and that they’re needed.”
The Appeal has added a QR code to its pamphlets and that should appeal to the generation of smart phone users. The scannable code gives them “Quick Response” via smart phones.
The Appeal helps support more than 70 programs and services Catholic Charities offers. Last year, Catholic Charities provided assistance to more then 130,000 people. It helped more than 5,200 individuals in eastern Niagara County.
There are challenging demographics.
”We bury 6,000 Catholics and baptise 2,500 Catholics every year,” Ulrich said. “We’re losing donors. What is comforting is is that our average gift continues to grow. People see value in what we’re doing.”
This year’s Appeal Week will take place March 17 to 24 throughout the eight counties of Western New York.