Why We Need Renewal
The Diocese has embarked on a journey to optimize more fully parish and diocesan resources, and, importantly, increase the reach and impact of our varied ministries throughout Western New York.
Facing severe financial challenges and also trends that are common in dioceses across the country having to do with declining church attendance and school enrollment, we are looking at best practices elsewhere to determine how to preserve Catholic life and increase the impact of ministries across the region.
The financial challenges confronting the dioceses and many parishes – exacerbated by the Covid-19 threat – requires that we identify ways to make better use of resources – bring together capabilities and even ministries to serve and evangelize.
The Chapter 11 process will go on for an extended period of time. This effort is aimed at defining the best organization for diocesan ministries and parishes for a vibrant future, acknowledging financial challenges but not being limited by them in carrying out the work of Faith.
What is the Road to Renewal?
The Catholic Faithful, priests, deacons, religious, parish administrators and school leaders of the Diocese of Buffalo are embarking on a journey to reinvigorate Catholic faith, more fully optimize parish and diocesan resources, and increase the impact of our varied ministries throughout Western New York. Much as the disciples rediscovered the Lord – and had their hope renewed – while breaking bread together after walking with him on the long road to Emmaus, we are traveling together, supporting one another, facing our challenges and opportunities together, and seek a renewed spirit of purpose and solidarity, united by our common faith in the One who makes all things new.
Reflecting and relying on the guidance provided by the “The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community in the Service of the Evangelizing Mission of the Church,” as issued in the summer of 2020 by the Congregation of the Clergy, we seek to reawaken in each of us, and collectively as a Family of Faith, the zeal to proclaim boldly the Gospel of Jesus Christ in keeping with our baptismal commitment and to serve those most vulnerable with renewed vigor and uncompromised devotion.
Throughout this journey that we now travel together, our guiding principles will be to listen and to learn; to be open and transparent about the challenges we face, and collaborative in devising solutions that must ultimately lead us to greater dependence on and support for one another, while renewing in each of us as members of this Family of Faith the zeal to proclaim Christ’s Gospel of unconditional love and forgiveness.
The Big Picture
This renewal is necessary for the Diocese to regain focus on mission and overcome the negative trend of participation in sacraments, financial support and vocations. These trends are driven in part, by the shameful history of abuse and its cover-up, the on-going bankruptcy and the recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following Information and data sets must be considered part of the reality addressed by all who are engaged in planning for renewal of the diocese. Executing the pastoral plan in parishes and the diocese will need to positively impact these trends and conditions. Some trends and conditions need to be immediately impacted, others can only be impacted over time. The pastoral plan must impact every mission related metric.
- Over the past 8 years attendance at mass has dropped by 41%
- Baptisms and Marriages have declined more than 30%
- Catholic School Enrollment is down by 24% over the past decade
- Parish finances have remained mostly flat despite 19% inflation over the last ten years
- The number of ordained religious available to provide the required ecclesiastical leadership is dwindling.