Diocesan Finance Council

Finance Council Meeting Notes:


Can. 492 §1. In every diocese a Finance council is to be established, offer which the diocesan bishop himself or his delegate presides and which consists of at least three members of the Christian faithful truly expert in Financial affairs and civil law, outstanding in integrity, and appointed by the bishop.

§2. Members of the Finance council are to be appointed for Five years, but at the end of this period they can be appointed for other Five year terms.

§3. Persons who are related to the bishop up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affnity are excluded from the Finance council.

Can. 493 In addition to the functions entrusted to it in Book V, The Temporal Goods of the Church, the Finance council prepares each year, according to the directions of the diocesan bishop, a budget of the income and expenditures which are foreseen for the entire governance of the diocese in the coming year and at the end of the year examines an account of the revenues and expenses.

Can. 494 §1. In every diocese, after having heard the college of consultors and the Finance council, the bishop is to appoint a Finance officer who is truly expert in Financial affairs and absolutely distinguished for honesty.

§2. The Finance officer is to be appointed for a Five year term but can be appointed for other Five year terms at the end of this period. The finance officer is not to be removed while in this function except for a grave cause to be assessed by the bishop after he has heard the college of consultors and the Finance council.

§3. It is for the Finance officer to administer the goods of the diocese under the authority of the bishop in accord with the budget determined by the Finance council and, from the income of the diocese, to meet expenses which the bishop or others designated by him have legitimately authorized.

§4. At the end of the year, the Finance officer must render an account of receipts and expenditures to the Finance council.

About the Diocesan Finance Council

The Diocesan Finance Council (DFC) of the Diocese of Buffalo is an advisory body to the Bishop on financial matters affecting the Diocese. Each member of the finance council are appointed for five years and at the conclusion may be appointed for a second five-year term. The Council meets 4 to 5 times per year, with the Bishop present, during which time they monitor diocesan finances; prepare the annual diocesan budget; review the annual financial report; and examine the account of revenue and expenses. 

Most. Rev. Michael W. Fisher

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo

James J. Beardi

Finance Council Chair
(Term: 2018-2022)

Rev. Peter J. Karalus

Ex-officio; Vicar General of the Diocese of Buffalo

Charles Mendolera

Executive Director of Financial Administration

(716) 847-5500

Marco F. Benedetti
(Term: 2020-2025)

Rev. Leon Biernat
(Term: 2022-2026)

Rev. Msgr. Angelo M. Caligiuri
(Term: 2019-2023)

Carrie B. Frank
(Term: 2020-2024)

Karen L. Howard
(Term: 2021-2025)

Rev Walter Grabowski
(Term: 2022-2026)

Joseph F. Kapsiak
(Term: 2021-2025)

Rev. Louis S. Klein
(Term: 2019-2023)

Msgr. Frederick D. Leising
(Term: 2022-2026)

Maureen Ludwig
(Term: 2020-2024)

Rodney I. Richardson
(Term: 2022-2026)

Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel
(Term: 2021-2025)

Biographies of the Diocesan Finance Council

James J. Beardi (Term: 2018-2022):  Mr. Beardi has been Chair of the Finance Council of the Diocese of Buffalo since 2018 and has been a member of the Council since 2013. He is a retired executive with over 42 years at M&T Bank (a large Regional Bank, headquartered in Western New York). He served as Executive Vice President of the bank and was a member of the Executive Management Committee of the bank. Mr. Beardi also served as President/CEO of the Mortgage Banking subsidiary and other subsidiaries. He served as Executive in charge of various divisions/departments, including Mortgage Banking, Consumer Lending, Small Business Banking, Legal and Compliance, facilities, all bank operations, and other areas.  He is a past member of many boards, including local and national mortgage banking, Canisius College, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Erie County Industrial Development Agency, and others. Within the Diocese of Buffalo he is a member of several parish finance councils, a current parish trustee, a member of his parish leadership council, and is a member of the Diocesan Lay Pension Advisory Committee. Mr. Beardi holds a B.S. degree in engineering and an MBA.  

Marco F. Benedetti (Term: 2020-2025): Mr. Benedetti, CPA, is currently Chief Financial Officer of Harmac Medical Products, Inc. in Buffalo NY, and brings more than 30 years of experience in the fields of higher education, medical devices, manufacturing, printing, and global operations. He also serves as the Independent Board Director and Audit Committee Chair for Micron Solutions Inc. in Fitchburg MA. His past professional experience includes Vice President for Business & Finance / Treasurer of Canisius College in Buffalo NY; Vice President of Finance – FP & A / Treasurer, and Corporate Controller / Principal Accounting Officer, of Greatbatch Inc. in Clarence NY; Vice President of Finance for Ashton-Potter, USA Ltd. In Amherst NY; and Director of Finance / Corporate Controller for International Imaging Materials (IIMAK) in Amherst NY. These positions include serving as senior leader for financial functions, managing business unit budgets, directing team members in Mexico, France, Belgium, and Brazil, and developing strategic financial plans with investors and banks. Mr. Benedetti holds an MBA and a BBA from University at Buffalo (UB), with respective concentrations in Accounting/Finance and Management Information Systems. His additional service includes: Past Chair of the New York College & University Risk Management Group; former trustee of the Niagara Business Trust (providing workers’ comp for 57 companies); former Treasurer of the Board of Directors for UB School of Management Alumni Association.

Rev. Msgr. Angelo M. Caligiuri (Term: 2019-2023): Msgr. Caligiuri is a retired priest in the Diocese of Buffalo, and has served on its Finance Council multiple times since 1967. He is a former member of the Presbyteral Council and Priest Personnel Board, and served as an assegnatore for the second Vatican Council. He has also served as the Episcopal Vicar for Religious within the Diocese and as Episcopal Vicar for the Northern Erie (county) vicariate. At the parish level, Msgr. Caligiuri is a former Parochial Vicar for St. John Church in Jamestown, NY; former Pastor of Infant of Prague Church in Cheektowaga, NY; and former Administrator of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Cherry Creek, NY. As an educator, he is a past professor at both St. John Vianney Seminary – East Aurora NY and Diocesan Preparatory Seminary – Buffalo NY. Msgr. Caligiuri is a graduate of Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy (S.T.B., S.T.L., Ph.L., Ph.D.) and Our Lady of the Angels Seminary at Niagara University (B.A.), and was ordained to the priesthood in Rome, Italy 1958.

Rev. Leon J. Biernat (Term: 2022-2026): A priest of the Buffalo Diocese for twenty-nine years, Father Biernat has been serving as pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Williamsville, NY since 2014. Throughout his priestly ministry, one of his primary focuses has been bringing young people closer to Christ and His Church. He was ordained as a priest in 1992 at his home parish of Assumption in Buffalo and was assigned to serve as parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Church in North Buffalo. He also served as Pastor at St. Amelia Parish in Amherst, beginning in 1995. Father Leon was appointed Director of Vocations for the Buffalo Diocese in 1999, traveling extensively to parishes, parochial schools, Catholic high schools, parish religious education programs, Confirmation programs, and college campuses, with an emphasis on recruiting potential candidates for the priesthood. Honors have included investiture in the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, 2015); St. George Medal from Boy Scouts of America (2021); Brothers of Mercy Caritas Award (2017); Pro-Vita Award (2013); Diocesan Union of Holy Name Societies (1998, 2010); General Pulaski Association, for service to the Polish-American community of Western New York (2002, 2013); Am-Pol Eagle Citizen of the Year (2002); and the Blessed Junipero Serra Award from Serra Club of Buffalo (2002). Father Biernat holds a Master of Divinity degree from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, NY and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Canisius College of Buffalo.

Carrie B. Frank (Term: 2020-2024): Mrs. Frank is a retired healthcare executive with a B.S. in Accounting from Canisius College in Buffalo NY. She held leadership positions in various healthcare delivery and financial capacities in her 36-year professional career. She is a former Vice President for Excellus Health Plan and former CFO and COO of Buffalo General Hospital and Kaleida Health. Mrs. Frank currently serves on several volunteer boards and on three investment committees.

Karen L. Howard (Term: 2021-2025): A native Western New Yorker, Ms. Howard retired in 2020 as a business executive with a strong financial background. Most recently, Ms. Howard worked as Executive VP of Kei Advisors LLC, an investor relations and business advisory firm. She was employed for 17 years with Columbus McKinnon Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCO), a global manufacturer of material handling products and solutions. She held a variety of positions, including CFO; VP-Strategic Initiatives; VP-Finance; VP/Corporate Controller; Treasurer; and Manager of Financial and Tax Planning. Ms. Howard was also a member of CMCO’s Executive Committee and served as Benefits Committee Chairperson, Working Capital Utilization Team Chairperson, and Corporate Lean Chairperson. A graduate of Niagara University, she began her career employed in the Assurance department of the Buffalo office of Ernst & Young for 11 years, earning her CPA designation and advancing to the position of Senior Manager. In addition to serving on the Diocese of Buffalo (DOB) Finance Council, Ms. Howard is currently a member of the DOB Audit and Compliance Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Highmark of Western and Northeastern New York (formerly HealthNow New York) and chairs its Audit Committee; serves on the Board of Trustees of Niagara University and chairs its Investment Committee; and serves on the Board of Directors of Seneca Street Community Development Corp as project manager for its capital planning initiative.

Rev Walter Grabowski (Term: 2022-2026): Fr. Grabowski is currently celebrating his 40th anniversary of ministry/ordination, as of May 2021. He holds a Master’s degree in Theology and Sociology and has applied his training as both a pastor and an administrator. In addition to serving on the Finance Council for the Diocese of Buffalo, Fr. Grabowski is currently the Pastor of St. Gabriel’s Parish in Elma NY. He has developed a culture that emphasizes conservative spending and transparent financial policies for the parish, with trust from his parishioners as a high priority. As former Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in North Collins NY, Fr. Grabowski restored fiscal solvency for the parish, and achieved 150% collection for the Upon This Rock fundraising campaign. As former Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Eden NY, he served also as Administrator for the affiliated regional grammar school. During his tenure, the parish constructed a new parish center and, similar to Holy Spirit North Collins, achieved 152% collection for its Upon This Rock campaign.

Joseph F. Kapsiak (Term: 2021-2025): Mr. Kapsiak is a retired CPA and financial executive with a background in finance, auditing, loss prevention, and budget/cost efficiencies. He has served on the Finance Council of the Diocese of Buffalo, and several of its sub-committees, at various intervals over the past 15 years. Professional positions have included 11 years as a First Vice President/Chief Audit Executive in the banking industry, developing and implementing risk-based audit plans; 20 years as Vice President/Controller leading all accounting and tax functions for a major supermarket; and 7 years with public accounting firm KPMG. His professional affiliations include the New York Society of Certified Public Accountants; the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; and the Institute of Internal Auditors. Mr. Kapsiak has also been active with the Catholic Church as a member of the Bishop’s Council of the Laity and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. He holds a B.S. degree in Accounting from Husson College – Bangor, ME and an A.S. degree in Automation Management from Bryant & Stratton Business Institute.

Reverend Peter J. Karalus (Ex Officio): Fr. Karalus is currently the Vicar General for the Diocese of Buffalo and serves in multiple other capacities, including current member of the College of Consultors of the Diocese of Buffalo and as a Board member for Catholic Charities, Response to Love Center, and Cantalician Center for Learning. He has formerly served as: Board member for Christ the King Seminary; Secretary and Chair of the Presbyteral Council for the Diocese of Buffalo; delegate to Presbyteral Council of New York State; and Parochial Vicar at St. Gabriel’s Parish in Elma NY. Fr. Karalus has also held positions as Pastor of Saint John Paul II Parish in Lake View NY, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lake View NY, and St. Vincent de Paul in North Evans NY. He is a former Canonical Administrator of Southtowns Catholic School in Lake View NY and served as an adjunct faculty member and chaplain at St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster NY. Fr. Karalus holds a M.Div. degree from Christ the King Seminary and a B.A. from University at Buffalo, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1997.

Rev. Louis S. Klein (Term: 2019-2023): Father Klein is currently the pastor of Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Cheektowaga NY, having been named by Bishop Edward Kmiec under the Diocese of Buffalo’s Journey in Faith and Grace initiative. In his tenure as pastor, he has led the parish to a position of financial solvency through strategic financial and other administrative policies. Father Klein also serves as full-time Chaplain at Sisters of Charity Hospital’s St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga NY. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University at Buffalo and served in the public sector as Senior Auditor for the City of Buffalo, NY.

Msgr. Frederick D. Leising (Term: 2022-2026): Msgr. Leising is currently retired but has been a priest for 50 years, and is a past Chairperson of the Presbyteral Council. His former positions include Rector and Professor at Christ the King Seminary – East Aurora NY; Pastor at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Harris Hill) – Williamsville NY; Pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption – Lancaster NY; Pastor at Portageville and Canaseraga NY;  Teacher, Guidance Director, and Acting Principal at Notre Dame High School in Batavia NY. Msgr. Leising holds graduate degrees from St John Vianney Seminary (Theology) and The University of Notre Dame (Philosophy). Honors include Curé de Ars recipient and Diocesan teacher of the year.

Maureen Ludwig (Term: 2020-2024): A member of the Diocese of Buffalo Finance Council since 2019, Ms. Ludwig is a Managing Director at Deloitte LLP in Buffalo NY, with more than 35 years of experience within the profession of public accountancy.  She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and Information Systems from Pace University, and is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in New York and New Jersey.  Ms. Ludwig is a Member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. Within the Diocese of Buffalo she is a parishioner of the Church of the Annunciation in Elma, NY. 

Rodney I. Richardson (Term: 2022-2026): Mr. Richardson is a retired Vice President with over 30 years at Fleet Bank of New York (a large regional bank). He served as Vice President / District Manager for the City District, providing leadership and guidance to branch managers in order to achieve profitability goals and objectives in Retail/Commercial lending for the district. Mr. Richardson also served as Vice President and Regional Community Development Manager responsible for Western New York. He is a past member of many boards, including National Association of Urban Bankers, Buffalo Sewer Authority, Federal Enterprise Community Board, and several others. Within the Diocese of Buffalo, he is a member of the parish council and finance committee, and is currently a parish trustee, for St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. Mr. Richardson is a graduate of UB School of Management / Bank Management Institute and completed studies in accounting and finances at the American Institute of Banking in Buffalo, New York.

Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel (Term: 2021-2025): In addition to his service as a current (and past) member of the Finance Council of the Diocese of Buffalo, Msgr. Zapfel has served the Catholic Church in various capacities over many years. He is a member and past Chair of the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Buffalo, and currently chairs its Temporality Committee. Additionally, he is a member and past Chair of the Priests Councils of New York State. He is the current Vicar Forane for the Northern Erie (county) vicariate, served as Vice Chancellor of the Buffalo Diocese for 11 years, and was an official of the Vatican Congregation for Education for five years. He is the current pastor of both St. Leo the Great and St. Benedict Roman Catholic Churches in Amherst, NY., and the former Associate pastor of St. Peter R.C. Parish in Lewiston, NY. Msgr. Zapfel is also a former educator, having taught in the Permanent Diaconate program and as an adjunct faculty member at both Niagara University in Niagara Falls NY and Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora NY. He serves as the Bishop of Buffalo’s Representative for Health Care, is Chair of the Members and Sponsors Council of Catholic Health System of Buffalo, serves on its Board of Trustees, and is a member of seven additional Catholic Health boards and committees. Msgr. Zapfel holds a doctorate degree in Moral Theology with a specialty in Biomedical Ethics, as well as an MBA degree.