Loving God, we come to You,
standing together in faith,
ready to realize the freshness of a bold endeavor,
as we look to the future of our Church.
Building up the Kingdom of God on earth
is Your will and our privilege.
Bless our efforts with the energy and enthusiasm we need.
Jesus, our Redeemer, encourage and guide us.
Open our hearts to be good stewards
because of our love for You.
Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, empower us
to carry out Your will for the Upon This Rock campaign.
May Your Goodness be upon us,
And give us success to the work of our hands and hearts.
We ask Your blessing now and always
through Christ Our Lord.
On April 23, 1847, Pope Pius IX established the Diocese of Buffalo and appointed the Very Rev. John Timon as our first bishop. At the time, the diocese covered an expansive 16 counties and had just a handful of priests to serve a rapidly growing population.
Western New York became home to many Catholic immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, and many other parts of the world, who settled here in pursuit of a better life. They joined a workforce that labored to support commerce along the Great Lakes, farmed the land to feed a growing nation, and started businesses in service to those who came to live and work in the region. Catholicism flourished within a system of parishes that included newly established elementary schools and the construction of magnificent churches in which to worship.
Bishop John Neumann and Father Nelson Baker were icons of the early Catholic Church in Western New York. Immediately after his ordination in 1836, Neumann gave himself to the pastoral care of the residents of the Niagara Falls region. He cared for the sick and impoverished and worked particularly closely with the recent German immigrants of the area. He founded Saints Peter and Paul Church in Williamsville, which remains a vibrant parish within the Diocese of Buffalo today. Bishop John Neumann was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977. Similarly selfless work and lifelong service to the most vulnerable members of the community earned Father Nelson Baker the title of "Padre of the Poor." In honor of Our Lady of Victory, Baker built a "city of charity," whose centerpiece was a magnificent basilica that continues to attract faithful from around the world. Father Baker was designated "Venerable" in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.
In the spirit of Saint John Neumann, Venerable Nelson Baker, and countless others who have come before us, our Catholic community strives to serve the spiritual, pastoral, and educational needs of the people in our region.
Today, our diocese spans almost 6,500 square miles and encompasses eight counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming. The Diocese of Buffalo numbers approximately 630,000 Catholic individuals welcoming new immigrant populations from South American, African, and Middle Eastern countries, served by 164 parishes. Our 49 Catholic schools provide a faith-based education to more than 15,000 students, and 29,100 youth are currently enrolled in Religious Education programs. We are blessed with nearly 400 priests, 266 of whom are active at this time; 819 women religious; 134 deacons; and a wealth of lay leaders and committed volunteers who serve God's people every day. The social, pastoral, and ministerial works of our diocese provide spiritual support and outreach services to more than 500,000 people in need, of all faiths and backgrounds, each year.
As we look to the future, we consider the abundance of blessings God has bestowed upon us and strive to move forward with a deepened sense of discipleship and stewardship of these gifts. Upon This Rock provides each of us with a unique opportunity to carry out the mission of our faith and to respond to God's call. We now are challenged to secure a lasting legacy for the future, by reshaping the ways we serve and shepherd the faithful for generations to come.