Sunday, February 03, 2013

Roman Catholic Diocese launches $3.5 million public campaign Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is calling on local parishioners to complete a $14 million fund-raising campaign designed to support young priests in training and older priests in retirement.

With more than 110,000 Catholic households in the 12-county Diocese, church officials are hoping to bring in at least $3.5 million to add to donations of $10.5 million already raised for the “Our Legacy, Our Future, Our Hope” campaign.

“I know the good and gracious people of God share my pride at our priests, who serve them at every stage of their lives,” said The Rev. Robert Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse and Apostolic Administrator of the Rochester Diocese. “We must support these men as much as we can.”

The fund will be split with $7 million to support seminarians seeking ordination to the priesthood. There are 25 seminarians from the Rochester Diocese currently in school, the largest class in years, church officials said.

The remaining $7 million will help ensure that senior priests will receive stipends in retirement.

Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark initiated the campaign before his retirement in September. 

As a result, more than 300 families and individuals contributed more than $10.5 million. Joseph Lobozzo, a Rochester-area businessman and philanthropist, donated $750,000 to the fund.

“Having served on the Diocese’s Stewardship Council for many years, I’ve been acutely aware of our struggles to find men who are willing to answer the call to enter the priesthood,” said Lobozzo. “We need such men to carry on our faith for the future. Now that we have been blessed with 25 such men studying to be priests, I believe we have an obligation to that their education and formation needs are met fully.”

Most men enter the seminary after graduating from college and may have student debt to pay. 

The cost per seminarian is $40,000 a year during the six years of required preparation.

Andrew Montanaro, 26, a native of Ogden, is in his second year of seminary at the Theological College at Catholic University in Washington D.C. He is currently doing his pastoral service at St. Joseph’s Church in Penfield.

“We take classes, a lot of classes, but seminary is really about a total human formation necessary for anybody in any kind of ministry,” Montanaro said. 

“We are sent out to work with real flesh and blood human beings, people of every age and circumstance, the poor, in hospitals, in churches, in schools. So I ask every Catholic to pray for priests in seminary and to support us in any way they can.”

The Diocese is sending videos to area churches in support of the campaign. For more information, go to

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