Family Updates

CCBN Family Updates

This page is where we will post all updates of what is happening in the pillars as well as answers to common questions that were asked at the Listening Sessions.

What are the pillars? What do they do?

When forming the Road to Renewal, the Diocese has asked each family of Parish to form 6 Pillars (committees). These are the 6 key areas of the Church that require constant planning, monitoring and evaluation within each Family of Parishes and create Family Action Plan.

The pillars are as follows:

  1. Liturgy: Mass Schedules for each parish within the Family, Sacrament schedule, and Liturgy Committee.
  2. Spiritual Life: Sacramental preparation, Devotions, Retreats, RCIA, and Life in the Eucharist.
  3. Forming Disciples: Religious Education (Kindergarten through grade 12), Catholic schools, Youth Ministry, Young Adult/Adult Faith Formation, Adult Leadership Training, Inclusive Catechesis and Family Formation.
  4. OutReach/InReach: Any ministry or activity aimed at bringing relief for those who are suffering, while maintaining inclusivity, Evangelization efforts, Promotion of missionary discipleship to attract new Catholics, Ministry to those who are in physical or spiritual need, Empower parishioners, and Develop a culture of welcome.
  5. Stewardship: Volunteers (Donate time, treasure and / or talent), Parish hospitality, Fundraising, and Development.
  6. Administration: Human Resources, Safe Environment, Governing/Family leadership, Processes/On-site Hours, Personnel, Budgeting/finances, Communications, Data/ Reporting and Security/Compliance
     

What does our logo mean?

You have probably seen our logo around, in our bulletin, on Facebook, but what does it represent? Our mission as a family of parishes is to be a Eucharistic Faith Community that is committed to bringing others to Jesus Christ. Our logo, therefore, is a compass which points North (Catholic Community of Buffalo, NORTH) to the cross of Christ. This is our goal and our prayer, to be instruments of the Holy Spirit, that we may bring others to Christ.


 

How are parishes of the family doing? Which parishes are flourishing and which are struggling?

Based on the year to date results thru 1/31/23, that were shared with CCBN family member trustees last month at our quarterly trustees meeting, most members are doing OK and are in a pretty similar financial situation. The one exception is All Saints Church which is struggling
Let’s address the All Saints situation first. For the first five months of the fiscal year, the YTD result thru 1/31/23, contributions are up 15% or $6,094 over the previous year. That is a real positive trend. However, All Saints is a smaller parish in a less affluent section of the city. The area of concern is lack of cash in its bank accounts. This has been a problem for many years and recent increases in contributions have only been able to increase cash balances minimally. At 1/31/23, they had $18,760 in the bank. They have a large church and have difficulty paying large heating bills in the winter, and are often one large repair bill away from running low or out of cash. To address this concern, the Parish has lined up several fundraising events later this year. They also recently had a parish town hall meeting to advise the parishioners of the current financial situation and to ask for increases in weekly contributions. They also recently implemented online giving to offer current parishioners an easy vehicle for weekly donations and to appeal to parish alumni, etc. Lastly, the parish is having to address an aging school building that is in bad shape and in need of over $1.5 million in repairs, with limited funds to pay for these repairs. We are currently seeking grant money and outside developers as possible solutions.
With regard to the other CCBN family members, looking at results for the 5 months ended 1/31/23, contributions have held up reasonably well. Assumption Church has increased contributions by 8% or $7,064 and contributions for the other four family members are down somewhat YTD. After factoring in lost contributions due to the December blizzard and the November snow storm, which will be reimbursed by the Diocese as part of our storm damage insurance claim, contributions are about the same or down a slight bit year to date compared to last year for the other four family members. Considering the stress and strains on our churches due to Diocese related concerns, and family related changes, such as mass schedule changes and losses, losing Fr Joe, etc. this is a notable accomplishment. I would just add that St. Margaret Church has experienced some weekly contribution drop offs beginning in February that we are monitoring closely. One area that impacts most of our churches to some degree is that we have aging buildings that may need “capitalizable” repairs such as new roofs or windows. Paying for these costly repairs are a drain on a church's cash balances and can result in deficit spending under the not-for-profit accounting model that we use to report our financial results to the Diocese. These capital related repairs do not count towards a parish's “operating” surplus or deficit, which is determined by looking at operating income items and expenses items only. It is notable that St. Margaret and St Mark will both have roof replacement/repairs during the current year that will likely cause a deficit to be reported for the year ended August 31, 2023.


 

What losses are generally covered by insurance? And more specifically, what damages related to the All Saints Parish School are covered by insurance?

All parish property is insured on a replacement cost basis (both real and personal property i.e. buildings and their contents) as long as the damage or loss is due to “an insured peril”. In general, this includes things like fire, weather related damage like windstorm damage, vandalism, etc. Most interior water damage is covered – examples are backup of sewers or drains, broken pipes that leak, flood, water damage from leaking roofs. Probably the most asked question is what is covered when roofs need repair or replacement. In a nutshell, if it’s a maintenance issue (old worn out roofs, etc.), it is not covered. If a windstorm rips off slates, shingles, etc., it is covered. The Diocese has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in December storm claims from damages to parish/school/Diocese property. Also, we provide comprehensive equipment breakdown coverage. This covers “sudden and accidental” breakdown of equipment serving your buildings – most notable is breakdown of boilers and furnaces. But it also covers breakdown of pumps, compressors, air conditioning equipment, electrical panels, sump pumps, motors – pretty much anything that plugs into electricity. Same as property, if the equipment is just old, corroded, rusty and not working due to wear and tear, etc. breakdown is not covered. Both property and equipment breakdown are subject to a $1,000 deductible.
A couple examples of what we often see are when an old roof leaks and causes interior damage from the water coming in. We don’t cover the roof repair but we do cover all interior damages from the leak. Another is when an old pipe breaks and causes water damage. We cover all the water damage but don’t cover the pipe repair/replacement. Another key exclusion is that we don’t cover any underground piping or damage to foundations.
As respects to All Saints, the Diocese Insurance Department is currently looking into the roof issues and whether or not there is a potential insurance claim. We will keep you updated on this topic as we learn more.


 

Could a Eucharistic Minister lead a Communion Service? Can there be training for this/sheet in case priests/deacons don't show up to mass?

It is possible for an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to lead what the Church calls the Rite of Distribution of Holy Communion Outside Mass, what we would refer to as a “Communion Service”. This liturgy is discouraged by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy and the Code of Canon Law #918 which both recommend that reception of Holy Communion be received during the Eucharistic Celebration itself. The USCCB states: 
“Whenever possible, the Mass schedule of nearby parishes should be available to parishioners. If a nearby parish is celebrating Mass on a given weekday, serious consideration should be given to encouraging people to participate in that Mass rather than the parish scheduling a Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Holy Communion.”
The Rite of Distribution of Holy Communion Outside Mass was developed for extraordinary circumstances, i.e. when a priest falls ill or a situation comes up that he is unable to pray the Mass with the community and there is not a reasonable opportunity for the faithful to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass elsewhere to fulfill their Sunday obligation. In these instances, a deacon, when present, or a delegated Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion could lead a Rite of Distribution of Holy Communion Outside Mass. This Rite should not be scheduled or led out of convenience.


 

Why were Mass Schedules changed after they were decided on and who made that decision?

The unfortunate reality is that as a pilot family, our Mass schedule was created without the input of the priests who would be celebrating the Masses. Clergy in phases 1, 2 and 3 are more involved in this decision-making process. After three months of rotating the daily Mass, Fr Dave and Fr Chris determined the schedule was not sustainable. While it seemed to serve each individual parish’s needs/wants, it did not serve the FoP as a whole and was just not feasible.
Overall, cutting back on Masses was necessary for many reasons that have been discussed and debated for over a year. The reality is that, even with several less Masses, there are still many open seats in our pews each weekend. The current four months / six months rotations are for the sake of each individual congregation but if we look at the CCBN regarding participation in weekend Masses, we could offer less Masses and still serve the number of people we are serving on any given weekend. It is our hope that parishioners across the FoP will start to see each celebration of the Mass, no matter in which church building, as a CCBN Mass and be open to praying with the greater community outside “their own” four walls.
Please pray for your clergy and staff as we are constantly discussing and evaluating the liturgical needs of the CCBN.


 

Diocesan Responses to Concerns

Dear Fr. Dave, Fr. Chris and the Catholic Community of Buffalo, North,
Thank you for being a Pilot Family of Parishes on the Road to Renewal for the Diocese of Buffalo. As you continue to move forward in the Renewal, I certainly understand that questions arise. Fr. Dave submitted questions from listening sessions in your family of parishes that I will do my best to address.

In the listening sessions, several requests were made to have printed reports available of Diocesan updates and the Diocesan Financial report. All of that information is available online and can be accessed at www.buffalodiocese.org or for regular communication on what is happening in the diocese you can go to www.wnycatholic.org. As you may be aware, the diocese is in chapter 11 reorganization and is unable to assume the cost of printing reports and communications for the entire diocese. If you desire this information in print, please ask your parish to provide printed copies of this information for your ease.

Concerning the request to ask other countries for more priests, we must realize that internationally, the number of priests to people in our diocese is actually low. In the Buffalo Diocese, we have approximately 1 priest per 750 Catholics. In many of the countries that we have received priests from that ratio is closer to 1 priest per 10,000 Catholics. Inviting priests from other countries diminishes the priests they have to minister to their populations. We need to be responsible in our diocese to the needs of the larger church as well as our local communities and all of us need to be working at promoting vocations in our own families so that we have priests to minister in the future from our local communities.

A concern was raised about giving more notice when extreme weather causes mass cancellations. Bishop Mike does his absolute best to make those judgement calls, but we also need to remember that we have a large geographic diocese that the Bishop is responsible for. Bishop Mike tries to make the call in inclement weather as early as possible with the best information given to him. It is always his utmost concern that parishioners remain safe during inclement weather. If anyone ever feels the weather is too bad to risk travelling to church, he urges them to stay inside, warm and safe. Local parishes can also cancel due to inclement weather on their own for the safety of their parishioners. Missing mass because of weather and safety is not a mortal sin.
Some questions that you wanted addressed include asking about programs for parishes. Programming for elderly, children or struggling marriages, etc are issues that should be addressed at the family level. Your family of parishes should identify what needs should be addressed and begin to work at formulating committees to address those needs. This was to be a part of your family of parishes outreach/inreach committee, and at this time your family of parishes has not addressed anything to do with outreach/inreach. This should be an immediate goal of your family of parishes and the diocese is willing to help and assist in forming outreach groups for your family. Catholic Charities also provides assistance for elderly, and has programming that can assist people. I would encourage your family of parishes to reach out to Catholic Charities to understand what they can provide to those in immediate need in your family of parishes.
As for priest retirements, all priests once they reach the age of 75 are bound by cannon law to submit their letter of resignation. The Bishop has chosen to accept these letters of resignation so that priests over the age of 75 do not have to be burdened with the administrative functions of being a pastor, but can focus on sacramental ministry, helping in the families of parishes. We need our retired priests to help our family of parishes function with the mass schedules they have.
Priests that have an accusation and have been suspended from ministry have an entire process of investigation that must be followed thoroughly. The Independent Review Board takes the lead on this and the Bishop receives their recommendation when they have completed their investigation. The Bishop is adamant about following the process and does reinstate priests as soon as the recommendation to do so has been made. We must do everything we can to ensure a safe environment for all people in our Diocese and following this process is a part of that.
As for the comments concerning the Road to Renewal, I realize that there are struggles with the Renewal, but I also hope you realize that there are good things about it as well. There are other pilot families that are moving forward and functioning very well together. Your family of parishes as a pilot has not progressed as much in the Renewal as was planned for various reasons. The leadership at your family of parishes was invited to an annual review in which areas that need to be addressed were shared. It is my hope that these areas will be focused upon in the very near future with your family so you can experience the fruit of collaborating together.
Lastly, the work of the Renewal is as transparent as your family of parishes. The guide as to expectations of how a family is to operate and work together have been shared from day one. The forming of the family action plan is done at the family level and should be shared with the parishioners, so they do not feel in the dark as to what is happening moving forward. As for closing churches, if that needs to happen within a family it will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
I hope this helps answer your questions and brings some clarity.
God Bless and Keep Smiling  
Rev. Bryan Zielenieski 
Vicar for Renewal and Development 
Diocese of Buffalo