Ralph J. Meranto of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Niagara Falls and Samuel Morreale, DDS, of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Parish in Niagara Falls accepted the awards for their long-time dedication during the Mass celebrated by Bishop Malone in Christ the King Chapel at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora.
The annual event also thanks and recognizes Appeal leadership donors and parish volunteers. An outdoor reception followed the Mass under a tent.
Bishop Malone made the presentations to the two volunteers.
"This evening we are excited to recognize and thank these gentlemen who have each dedicated nearly a lifetime to the Appeal!" said the Bishop.
Meranto, who has served for nearly 60 years, began collecting door to door, making phone calls and serving on Catholic Charities Appeal Sunday as a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Niagara Falls in the late 1950s. When he joined St. Charles Parish, he continued and increased his commitment. Meranto served as parish coordinator at St. Charles and later parish chair. At one time, he was coordinator of the Northwest Buffalo District until a new chairman was appointed for that area.
In 2008, he joined St. Vincent de Paul Parish and its Catholic Charities team. Shortly after, he became Niagara County Appeal coordinator. In 2013, he became chair of the St. Vincent de Paul Appeal. Meranto continues to serve as parish chair for St. Vincent de Paul and as Niagara County Appeal Coordinator.
Accepting the award, Meranto said, "Love, that's what is important, that's what this is all about."
Dr. Morreale of Niagara Falls, with more than 60 years of service, first collected door to door in 1952 for Catholic Charities as a service project for the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Joseph Parish in Niagara Falls. He continued going door to door when he could during his college and dental school years, and two years of Air Force active duty as a dental surgeon.
Shortly after his return from the Air Force, Dr. Morreale was appointed Large Gift chairman. He has served in that role for 52 years. He also now serves as co-chairman of the parish drive.
He recalled that in 1992 St. Joseph's, now known as Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Parish, was the first parish outside of Erie County to contribute more than $100,000 to the Appeal.
He said volunteering for Catholic Charities has been an "avocation for him and he has derived much pleasure and satisfaction in raising funds to help those who are poor and in need and will continue as long as he is able."
Sister Mary McCarrick, Catholic Charities diocesan director, and Dennis C. Walczyk, Catholic Charities chief executive officer, also offered their gratitude for the generosity of time and talents given by the volunteers and the generosity of support by the donors.
The 2016 Appeal closed on June 30 with the announcement that the annual campaign surpassed its $11 million goal with cash and pledges received totaling $11,108,356.45, just before a special benefit concert featuring the musical group Forte.
Funds raised for the 2016 Appeal support Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services offered across 61 sites throughout the eight-county diocese.
As the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.
Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. For five years, it attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service and was named the winner of the 2015 Torch Award for Philanthropic Excellence by the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Upstate New York.
For further information about the organization and its programs and services, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at twitter.com/ccbuffalo.