Laura Opelt has new role with Rochester Diocese’s Catholic Charities

Mike Latona/Catholic Courier    |    06.03.2019
Category: Southern Tier


Laura Opelt

When it comes to possessing relevant experience, it’s tough to top the next associate director of diocesan Catholic Charities.

Laura Opelt has directed Catholic Charities of Steuben since 1998. In replacing Tony Barbaro as associate diocesan director, she said she will be “basically supporting the executive directors in the Southern Tier and assisting Jack (Balinsky, diocesan Catholic Charities director) with other diocesan-related matters” in such areas as strategic growth, development and special projects.

Opelt will serve in her new position on a part-time basis, whereas Barbaro has been full time. Opelt explained that she won’t inherit Barbaro’s financial responsibilities, and that working part time is a good fit at this point in her life.

“I’m still loving my work and not wanting to retire yet,” said Opelt, who will turn 62 in October.

Opelt noted that Steuben Catholic Charities’ board of directors is looking to have a new full-time executive director in place by the end of this summer. She will then work with that person for the rest of 2019 while transitioning to her new role as associate diocesan director.

The Steuben office has greatly increased its level of programs and services during Opelt’s 21 years of leadership; today it has an annual budget of $6.4 million with more than 100 employees.

“I value all the work we do as Catholic Charities in the diocese. I mean, it’s incredible when you stand back and look at the magnitude and impact we have on people’s lives,” Opelt said, noting that folks in difficult life circumstances who seek out Catholic Charities “feel important, they feel listened to. There’s compassion for them. ”

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