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Bishop Scharfenberger offers encouragement and guidance during coronavirus pandemic

Press Releases

Wed, Mar 25th 2020 07:00 am

From the Buffalo Catholic Diocese website's press releases:

Buffalo Catholic Diocese Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger encourages prayer and reflection at home and the utilization of life-streamed liturgies for all Catholic faithful deprived of the sacramental life of the church in this Lenten season, due to restrictions required to prevent widespread contagion of the novel coronavirus.

In a six-minute video message on the diocese website, Scharfenberger promotes reaching out by phone to those not adept in using technology and to check on elderly adults who might face particular challenges of isolation during the pandemic. He further highlighted the extensive spiritual resources and information made available at https://www.buffalodiocese.org, which includes links to masses that are live-streamed at various parishes of the diocese. 

Scharfenberger stressed the importance of complying with social distancing requirements, even by those not affected by the virus.

"Though it seems unreasonable and even counterintuitive for those of us who feel just fine and haven't personally experienced any effects – or know anyone who has – we do so out of care and concern for others and those who would likely experience the most severe effects of the coronavirus," he said. 

Scharfeberger has issued a dispensation to all Catholics from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation, given governmental restrictions on the assembly of people during this time. Furthermore, all penance services, Confirmations and other parish events have been cancelled or postponed. Visit https://www.buffalodiocese.org/coronavirus.

In addition, all other parish events and large gatherings are to be postponed, including confirmations. Funerals will continue to be conducted, though with only immediate family present until further notice.

Catholic schools in the City of Buffalo and in Erie County are closed until Monday, April 20. Niagara, Genesee, Chautauqua and Allegany counties have closed schools until further notice. Cattaraugus County has closed schools until Monday, April 13.

Additional information about schools and home study instruction will be made available HERE.

"As the faith community of Western New York, we have an important part to play in protecting those most vulnerable and those with underlying medical issues during this period of extreme concern over the spread of the coronavirus," Scharfenberger said. "I realize how deeply disappointing it is during our season of Lent to refrain from gathering at public Masses and participating together in our liturgical life, but we must avoid the risk of wider infection. I encourage the faithful, nonetheless, to pray fervently during this time when we must be apart and to continue their Lenten journey within families and in the quiet of their own prayerful reflection, knowing that Christ abides with us always and in every place."

•The Diocese of Buffalo is accelerating plans to realign the operations carried out by Catholic Center departments given the anticipated financial impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has required social distancing and the temporary discontinuation of Masses and other liturgical celebrations. These plans necessitate reducing the employment workforce of the Diocesan Catholic Center and impacted employees have been notified.

A press release said, “Given the persistent financial challenges of recent years, a collaborative process began in the spring of 2019 among the Presbyteral council, the office of finance, and the finance council of the diocese to review the functions of various diocesan departments and ministries and determine which of those best support and facilitate the work and ministry of pastors and parishes. A further aim has been to determine which ministerial activities can be best carried out collaboratively at the parish level, versus from the centralized offices of the Diocesan Catholic Center. These efforts will also identify efficiencies that can be shared among parishes and core capabilities in areas such as finance and human resources that can be leveraged more broadly for the benefit of parishes.

"While we deeply regret the very personal impact that this process of realignment will have on dedicated employees of the Catholic Center, we must assess how best to deploy the resources of the diocese in ways that reflect responsible stewardship and which offer the greatest benefit for our parishes," said the Rev. Peter Karalus, vicar general and moderator of the curia. "We anticipate that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will exacerbate the financial challenges that the diocese is already confronting. This is why we are accelerating our plans to better align the functions of the Catholic Center with the needs of our parishes. The Catholic Center exists to serve our parishes and ensure that they have the resources they need to sustain their outreach and ministries to their parishioners. Where and how we can provide administrative support and advance the work of evangelization carried out at the parish level, must be our priority."

The number of employees impacted totals 24; with 21 position eliminations and three positions moving from full-time to part-time employment. All whose positions are being eliminated will be eligible to apply for unemployment compensation immediately (versus the standard seven-day waiting period which has been waived). Moreover, health insurance will be continued until the end of April, after which former employees may apply for COBRA or continue their health insurance by paying premiums directly to the diocese. 

Watch it Online

Several churches offer streaming and video options for parishioners to watch Mass.

•Our Lady of Czestochowa Church

•St. Amelia Church

•St. Leo the Great

•St. Gregory the Great

•St. Martha Parish

•Our Lady of Pompeii

•SS. Columba Brigid

•Holy Family

•Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica

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