.- The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has created a “Tim Russert Making a Difference Fund” to support Catholic elementary schools.
Several winners of the annual Making a Difference Award, which was established by Russert in 2001, expressed gratitude for his work and voiced their condolences for the newscaster and political commentator whom Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo called “a gracious son of Buffalo” and a strong supporter of Catholic education.
“His commitment has been evident every year since 2001 when he began the Sister Lucille Socciarelli/Father John Sturm Making a Difference Award, honoring an outstanding Catholic elementary school teacher in the diocese,” the bishop said in a Saturday statement lamenting the passing of Russert.
“I am deeply saddened by the death of Tim Russert, a gracious son of Buffalo who was a highly respected journalist and dedicated member of the Catholic Church,” he said.
Bishop Kmiec described Russert as a “strong supporter” of Catholic education in the Diocese of Buffalo, noting that the newscaster had graduated from West Seneca’s St. Bonaventure Catholic Elementary School and Canisius High School in Buffalo.
The 2006 Making a Difference Award winner, Sr. M. Timothy Howard, OSP, said she was “deeply saddened” by Russert’s passing.
“He was an honorable man, with deep love for his family, his country, this city and most importantly, for God,” Sister Howard said. “Tim never forgot his roots, or the morals his parents raised him with. If we can learn anything from his passing it is that anything is possible, anyone can achieve greatness through hard work and integrity. Success is not measured in the amount of money we make, but on the positive ways we touch others.”
The 2005 Making a Difference Award Winner, Jeanne Kielbasa, described how her family had purchased a dining room table to celebrate her award. They now call the dining room the “Russert Room.”
“My family was speaking of Mr. Russert last night at the dinner table,” Kielbasa said. “We were discussing how he completely embodied the hope for the future that all Americans are praying for. He truly embodies the American spirit and the values that as a society we should cherish.”
Like many other eulogists, Bishop Kmiec lauded Russert’s commitment to faith and family, saying “he recognized the importance of fatherhood, family and faith, and he set a wonderful example for others to follow.”
“Tim Russert is being remembered in Masses throughout the Diocese of Buffalo this weekend. My prayers are with Tim, his wife Maureen, his son, Luke, his family and friends. May God grant him eternal rest.”
David Kersten, Executive Director of the Foundation for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Buffalo, said the establishment of the new Tim Russert Making a Difference Fund “will ensure that Tim’s mission of helping to further Catholic education in the Diocese of Buffalo will continue for generations to come.” Donations to the fund, he said, will be used for the annual Making a Difference Award and to provide financial aid to “deserving students wishing to attend a Catholic elementary school” in the Diocese of Buffalo.
“It is our hope to honor Tim by providing a means to support the Catholic values and heritage he credited with shaping who he became as a man, a husband, a father, a journalist and a human being,” Kersten concluded.
Donations to the Tim Russert Making a Difference Foundation may be made through the Diocese of Buffalo foundation’s web site at http://www.frcdb.org/