Buffalo, NY – Thursday night, the Diocese of Buffalo held its largest fundraiser of the year for Catholic education.
This comes just weeks after the Bishop announced the upcoming closure of ten Catholic elementary schools in Western New York.
The event chair said there is a waiting list of students to get into Catholic schools here. John Daly says that when you take financial aid into consideration, there are parents who want to send their children to Catholic schools and just can't afford it.
The "Making A Difference Dinner" gives hundreds of students the opportunity to attend Catholic schools. But, the diocese is going through a restructuring process which includes closing ten schools. The Bishop says it is too expensive to operate schools that do not have a large enough student body.
Channel 2 asked the event chair about the parishioners who are fighting to keep their schools open and what will happen next for those students.
"All the schools welcome these kids who are going to get displaced. But they're going to find beautiful homes. I was talking to one couple tonight and they told me they couldn't believe how welcoming, they were one of the schools that closed. And they said when they went to, it was Nativity, actually, they were at Saint Bernadette's and they went to Nativity and they said Nativity just welcomed them with open arms and they said it was just a warm feeling, so I think it's going to make our schools stronger and more viable and create a great environment for the kids," said Daily.
Some parents have already appealed the Bishop's decision. Parishioners from at least two schools are following cannon law and have filed petitions with the Bishop asking him to keep their schools open. Per cannon law, the Bishop has thirty days to respond if he so chooses. Those schools are Saint Francis in the City of Tonawanda and Saint Mary of the Lake in Hamburg.
We wanted to ask the Bishop about those petitions Thursday night, but he declined our request for an interview saying he was too busy.
We also called some of the parishioners who filed those petitions for an update Thursday night. We did not hear back, but as of one week ago, the Bishop hadn't responded.