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Father James Maher said seeing Pope Francis in Washington, D.C., in September is something he will remember for the rest of his life.

Father Maher is president of Niagara University. He attended the papal visit to Washington, D.C., as a guest of Congressman Brian Higgins. Arriving on Sept. 22, he was able to get an early start to the White House where President Barak Obama officially welcomed Pope Francis to the United States on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

“There was just such a positive energy,” Father Maher said about the arrival ceremony which was attended by almost 20,000 people. “You could see people from all ways and walks of life coming into the White House so it was pretty amazing to see. There was just such a good energy of people wanting to be there, anticipating what was going to be said, wanting to hear the message of the Holy Father.”

Father Maher said the Holy Father has been challenging people and inviting them to a culture of accountability.

“It’s really to encounter others and to listen to them as opposed to a culture that he has talked about; that of a throw away culture where people are just treated as objects,” Father Maher said. “It is very very consistent with what has been spoken about in various strains of Catholic social thought which is a consistent ethic of life. So it’s protecting the environment, caring for the poor and vulnerable, being concerned about inequity and being concerned about the values of family life and protecting human life in all of its forms from the womb to the tomb.”

World Meeting of Families breakout session offers practical parenting tips
Thursday, September 24, 2015 by Patrick J. Buechi

Two men from Buffalo traveled to Philadelphia to learn how to raise their children in the faith. They, along with 20 others from the Diocese of Buffalo, joined a crowd of 18,000 for the World Meeting of Families.

The event brings together people from across the globe to share the joys and sorrows, ups and downs of being a family in the 21st-century. Experts, clergy, bishops and even Pope Francis will participate during the Sept. 22-27 gathering.

Diocesan representative attends conference on urban families in Philadelphia
Thursday, September 24, 2015 by Kimberlee Sabshin

On Wednesday, the same day Pope Francis was in Washington, D.C., meeting with President Barack Obama and many American bishops, the World Meeting of Families was held in Philadelphia. Michael Gilhooly, assistant director of the Response to Love Center in Buffalo, attended one of the workshops held there, entitled “In the City: Concerns of the Urban Family,” which addressed the concerns that plague many urban families whose members end up caught in a cycle of poverty and violence.

The World Meeting of Families and the papal visit were part of a huge, international event, with people from all over the world flocking in droves to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Annual rosary crusade to be held on September 27
Monday, September 21, 2015 by Office of Communications

The 35th annual Rosary Crusade for World Peace will take place on Sunday, Sept. 27, at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, 1023 Swann Rd., Youngstown, from 2- 3:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Mary, Mother of God, gather us under your mantle of protection.” All are invited.

Once again, Msgr. J. Thomas Moran, pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Youngstown, serves as the moderator and Dolores Laurrie, of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Parish, Niagara Falls, is the crusade’s chairperson. Father Jeffrey Nowak, parochial vicar at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Niagara Falls, will serve as homilist.

Participants in the crusade include students from Niagara County who will recite the rosary, Knights of Columbus Council 14622, members of the Niagara University ROTC, and the St. Peter Roman Catholic School Bell Choir. The Breier family from Divine Mercy Parish, Niagara Falls, will crown the stature of Mary.   

Transitional deacon ordination
Sunday, September 20, 2015 by Office of Communications


Bishop Malone ordained for seminarians as transitional deacons on Saturday morning at St. Joseph Cathedral.  The new deacons will graduate in May and will be ordained to the priesthood in the spring.


Bishop Malone and Michael LaMarca

Bishop Malone and the seminarians


USCCB releases ‘USA Catholic Church’ mobile app
Friday, September 18, 2015 by USCCB

WASHINGTON—Leadership of the Catholic Church in the United States has introduced its first mobile app: USA Catholic Church. Designed to draw Catholics closer to their faith by providing access to Church information on all screens and devices, this is the only app that brings together information from all Catholic sources: parishes, dioceses, the U.S. bishops and even the Vatican. Not only will the app include religious news, daily Scripture readings and local parish content, it will feature exclusive, in-depth coverage of Pope Francis’ September visit to the United States.

“This is the most comprehensive virtual connection to the Catholic faith available,” said Bishop Christopher Coyne, chair-elect of the Committee on Communications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which created the app. “We understand many people are looking for more ways to connect with the Church and incorporate Catholic living into their busy lives—that’s exactly what this app is designed to do.”

App content is available in both English and Spanish and lets users:

• Follow Pope Francis with the latest news and communications, including videos and photos.

• Access unique mobile features: view daily readings, make mobile donations, receive news alerts, get Vatican and Catholic News Service updates, and have the ability to share via social media.



WASHINGTON— A video on “Care for God’s Creation” is the first of a seven-part series on Catholic Social Teaching, designed to be an introduction to this body of thought with notable Catholics reflecting on each of the teachings. The video release comes in conjunction with Pope Francis’ declaration of September 1 as a day of prayer for creation. The video series is co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“We received the earth as a garden,” says Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the “Care for God’s Creation” video. “It would be very unfair if we pass on the earth as a wilderness.”

The videos will be released every three weeks in conjunction with notable events on the Church calendar, leading up to the kickoff of CRS’ Lenten program CRS Rice Bowl on Ash Wednesday 2016. The series will comprise seven short videos, each highlighting one of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching as recognized by USCCB:

• Care for God’s Creation

• Call to Family, Community, Participation

• Life and Dignity of the Human Person

• Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers

• Solidarity

• Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

• Rights and Responsibilities

“Catholic Social Teaching is at the core of why and how CRS performs its mission to serve the poorest of the poor and people in need at times of emergency,” said Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of CRS. “These teachings are embedded in our identity as employees and servants of God.”

Bishop Malone to ordain four transitional deacons
Monday, September 14, 2015 by Office of Communications


A native of Nigeria and a father of two are among the four men who will be ordained transitional deacons on Saturday, Sept. 19, at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St., Buffalo. Through the imposition of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Richard J. Malone will ordain Venatius Ifeyichukwu Agbasiere, Michael K. Brown, Samuel T. Giangreco Jr. and Michael LaMarca at a special 10 a.m. Mass as the seminarians move one step closer to becoming priests.

Agbasiere, one of seven children, came to the Buffalo from Nigeria where he began his studies for the priesthood, said he feels God brought him to the diocese.

“I also believe,” he said, “that God has a mission for me in Buffalo, the mission to spread love, to show compassion, to share the joy of Christ, to be there for the hurting, those in pain, the suffering, the sick, the poor, those who live on the margins, the oppressed and the downtrodden, to be a listening, supporting, comforting and encouraging presence to people, to inspire faith, to promote the new evangelization, to welcome all into one fold of the church with Christ as its shepherd and to initiate a deeper appreciation of our faith within the community under the pastoral leadership and governance of my bishop and the fraternal collaboration and partnership of brother priests, in unity with the permanent diaconate community together with the religious men and women of the diocese.”

Brown, the father of two adults sons, entered the seminary following more than 24 years in United States intelligence in national security positions as an agent, investigator and in quality assurance and management.

Born and raised in Buffalo, he graduated from South Park High School and Canisius College. Brown also taught middle school math and religious education at various parishes. But, he explained, the most difficult part of his life’s journey has been being away from his children, Justin and Robert.

In reflecting on his journey toward the priesthood, Brown said, “If you are open to the Lord, you never know where your life journey will take you. I have to believe the Lord is with my every step through life and being open to his spirit, his plan will continue to unfold.” 

Diocese to eliminate fees for marriage annulments
Monday, September 14, 2015 by Kevin Keenan

With the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia (Sept. 22-25), and in anticipation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins on Dec. 8, Bishop Richard Malone has decided to eliminate all fees associated with seeking a marriage annulment through the Diocese of Buffalo’s Marriage Tribunal.

For the past several weeks, diocesan officials had been working on the plan to eliminate annulment fees prior to the Sept. 8 announcement by Pope Francis to simplify the annulment process.

“The hope is that this decision will open the door for many more people to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church,” Bishop Malone said. “Often people are discouraged from seeking an annulment because of the perceived financial burden attached to an annulment process. Requesting a fee for the annulment process has been an enormous psychological hindrance.”

Previously, the fee had partially covered the cost of operating the Tribunal Office which is responsible for processing annulment cases. While the fee was reduced or waived for those who could not afford it, the very existence of a fee was disheartening to many people and blocked the way for them to seek an annulment. By taking this step, Bishop Malone said he hopes that those who have been unable or unwilling to pursue an annulment will now be able and willing to do so.

Bishop Malone is encouraging pastors and other Church leaders to continue to make every effort to assure parishioners in divorced situations that the Church loves and welcomes them.


WASHINGTON—Pope Francis will bless a five-foot tall wooden cross, known as “the Cross of the Encuentros” in Philadelphia later this month. The cross symbolizes the journey of faith of Hispanic/Latino Catholics in the United States. The blessing will take place Saturday, September 26, upon his arrival to Independence Mall.

“The blessings of the cross will be a very symbolic moment that will uniquely crystalize Pope Francis’ stated desire to encounter Hispanic Catholics during his pastoral visit to the United States,” said Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. “In this cross, the pope will be blessing more that the object itself. He will bless a people, a process, a history, a shared journey of faith.”

Encuentro is a three-year ecclesial process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development and pastoral discernment in parishes, dioceses and episcopal regions that culminates with a national event. The process is convened by the U.S. Catholic bishops and a primary outcome of the Encuentro process is to discern pastoral practices and priorities to impact the quality of ministry among Hispanic Catholics.

Hispanics represent nearly 40 percent of all Catholics in the United States, and more than 50 percent of Catholics under 35. “We find in Hispanic Catholics a renewed hope for families that are evangelizing and missionary, promoters of vocations, attentive to the existential peripheries, defenders of the poor, and who claim their right to live out their faith in liberty and with justice, in this great nation of many cultures and peoples,” said Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. “The symbolism of this blessing occurring in the cradle of liberty and independence in our nation should not be overlooked.”

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