GATES — Noting that a vocation can take many different forms and that "the business world is part of that vocation," new Rochester Bishop Salvatore R. Matano greeted members of the local business community at a reception Feb. 11.
The event, attended by nearly 90 people, took place at the diocesan Pastoral Center. It marked the kickoff to this year’s 125th-anniversary celebration of the Catholic Courier which, along with El Mensajero Católico, served as host.
Bishop Matano — who became the newspapers’ president and publisher when he was installed as ninth bishop of Rochester — was introduced by Karen M. Franz, general manager and editor of the publications. He began his remarks by drawing a big laugh, noting that his installation was Jan. 3 "and it has been snowing ever since," in reference to Rochester’s unusually harsh winter. Turning more solemn, he emphasized the importance of the business leaders in the eyes of the local Catholic Church.
"You have continually given your talents to the diocese, to our parishes, to our institutions," Bishop Matano said, adding that their work contributions are "so very vital to the church’s mission."
"God gave you talents, he gave you gifts; and you go to work every day with those gifts. All that you do is important, and it’s important to God," Bishop Matano added, saying he viewed the reception’s purpose as "not so much to welcome me but to say ‘thank you’ to all of you."
Following Bishop Matano’s talk, participants were invited to meet him as well as board members and staff of Rochester Catholic Press Association, parent company of the two newspapers.
Tim Fitzgerald, who chairs two Courier/El Mensajero board committees, said he brought the idea for such a reception to the rest of the board last summer with the idea of fostering good relations and future collaborations between the Rochester Diocese and whoever the new bishop would be. He said that Bishop Matano readily agreed to the reception following his appointment to Rochester.
Fitzgerald, who also did much of the subsequent organizing, called the event "a wonderful night with a great cross-section of the business community," noting that guests came from public, private and not-for-profit organizations.
"The business community showed it was eager to meet and interact with our new bishop, and Bishop Matano showed he is a humble and gracious man. He was one of the last to leave and was sure to greet everyone who attended," observed Fitzgerald, a partner at the Bond Schoeneck & King law firm, one of the evening’s three major sponsors. The other major sponsors were M&T Bank and the Harris Beach law firm. Supporting sponsors were Fisher Investment, The Bonadio Group and Conifer Development.
Franz and Fitzgerald said they hoped the Feb. 11 reception would be the first of many gatherings between the diocese and area business members. For instance, Franz ventured the possibility of quarterly discussion sessions addressing topics that affect participants’ work and/or personal lives.
Although most of those who attended the reception were Catholic, Fitzgerald and William Kedley — chief operating officer at Harris Beach and longtime Rochester Catholic Press Association treasurer — said they envision a partnership between the diocese and local businesses based on achieving the common good, regardless of religious affiliations. Kedley said, for example, that businesses can assist in promoting such diocesan initiatives as food collections and Bishop Matano’s recent appeal for funds to assist people struggling to pay their heating bills during this frigid winter.
Franz noted that the reception was significant in several ways for the Courier and El Mensajero. It occurred early in the Courier’s anniversary year (the formal anniversary occurs in October); took place in February, which is observed nationally as Catholic Press Month; and came on the heels of the Jan. 24 feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and journalists. She pointed out that the event also was held in the Pastoral Center’s Bishop Dennis W. Hickey Conference Center, named after the late auxiliary bishop who was active with the Courier board for several decades and served for more than 10 years as the newspaper’s unpaid general manager.
Franz said she believed Bishop Hickey would be pleased that Bishop Matano "is known to be a strong supporter of the Catholic press, having served on boards and strategic planning committees for the former Providence Visitor diocesan newspaper in Rhode Island, and as a highly engaged publisher at the Vermont Catholic magazine prior to his appointment to the Diocese of Rochester."