New York Law on Heroin and Opioid Use in New York State

Sister Johnice gathered together with political and community leaders at

Evergreen Commons in Buffalo New York.


Today Wednesday June 22, 2016 was a historic day in New York State. Sister M. Johnice Rzadkiewicz C.S.S.F., representing the Diocese of Buffalo and Michael Gilhooly (Assistant Director at Response to Love Center) were invited guests of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as he signed the bill that invests nearly $200 Million to combat the epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse. New York State leads the nation with the most aggressive plan to combat the epidemic.



  • Mandate insurance companies to cover immediate access for needed inpatient treatment for as long as such treatment is needed.
  • Mandate insurance companies immediately cover medication and manage withdrawal and support recovery.
  • Require insurance companies cover overdose reversal medication kits for addicted individuals and their families.
  • Create 270 more treatment beds and 2,335 more medication-assisted treatment slots across the state.
  • Increased access to family and peer support and recovery resources.


  • Lower limits for initial opioid prescriptions from 30 to 7 days.
  • Mandate ongoing education on opioid and pain management for doctors and other prescribers to stop over prescribing.
  • Robust consumer education programs by pharmacists and other health providers on the risks of opioid addiction and available treatment options.


A Pastoral Response to the Substance Abuse Epidemic.

A Pastoral Response to the Substance Abuse Epidemic. Was a great training for people who are concerned but lack basic information about what is happening and how they can help. During this free training, we heard from experts about substance abuse, its prevention and its treatment. We learned how to speak with clients, develop relationships that restore hope and dignity, and secure the assistance that will make a long-term difference for individuals and families. Lastly, we spent some time reflecting on the current state of our community and ways that we can help improve things.

Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists Speak at Workshop
Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists Speak at Workshop

WNY United ( along with Aaron Naegely, Erie County Sheriff’s Office; Sue Boyle , WNY United; Sr. Johnice, Response to Love Center; and Avi Israel, Save the Michaels of the World, Inc. Cheryl Calire, Office of Pro-Life Activities; Fr. Marty Moleski, Calix; all spoke of their experiences and expertise on the subject.

Saturday May 14th 2016, at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora NY. Sister Johnice of the Response to Love Center speaking on the Pastoral Response to the Substance Abuse Epidemic.



Johnson Controls Volunteers for a Day of Service

Johnson Control Volunteers
Johnson Control Volunteers

The Response to Love Center was happy to welcome a crew of volunteers from Johnson Controls on Tuesday Feb. 23, 2016. The seven volunteers worked in all areas of the building including the dining room, the sorting room, pantry and even loading a truck bound for Nicaragua. It is compassionate and caring people like this that make our mission work so well. Their interaction with the clients and other volunteers was a joy to see and experience. Thank you to Johnson Controls and the volunteers that worked here on Tuesday it was certainly a pleasure to have you here.



Catholic Schools Week at Response to Love Center

What is National Catholic Schools Week?

National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2016 is January 31 – February 6. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2016 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

This year the following Catholic Schools contributed to the mission at Response to Love Center with their time and talents, donations and prayers. Working in our building alongside our volunteers on Monday February 1, 2016 a group from St. Amelia’s

St. Amelia's School Catholic Schools week 2016
St. Amelia’s School Catholic Schools week 2016

Wednesday February 3 St. Monica’s  worked in our dining room serving a delicious complete chicken meal that was prepared and provided by Immaculate Conception School in East Aurora;

Immaculate Conception Chicken Dinner Catholic Schools Week 2016
Immaculate Conception Chicken Dinner Catholic Schools Week 2016

Additionally Recognizing the need and addressing that need St. Christopher’s School organized and had a successful diaper drive helping hundreds of infants in the Buffalo area.

St. Christopher's School Diaper Drive Catholic Schools Week 2016
St. Christopher’s School Diaper Drive Catholic Schools Week 2016


God Bless all the Catholic Schools that go over and beyond to help the less fortunate in the Buffalo area through the mission at Response to Love Center.

Daily Themes

Celebrate the following daily themes and celebrations in your (arch)diocese during Catholic Schools Week 2016.

•Sunday – In Our Parish
•Monday – In Our Community
•Tuesday – In Our Students
•Wednesday – In Our Nation (National Appreciation Day For Catholic Schools)
•Thursday – In Our Vocations
•Friday – In Our Faculty, Staff and Volunteers (Teacher & Principal Appreciation Day)
•Saturday – In Our Families

Good News for the Nation: Catholic Schools Are Thriving

Catholic schools offer academic excellence and faith-filled education for students nationwide. National test scores, high school graduation rates, college attendance and other data show that Catholic schools frequently outperform schools in both the public and private sectors. While some Catholic schools are challenged by declining enrollment and school closures, the good news is that there is a strong demand and enthusiasm for Catholic schools. Thirty-two percent of Catholic schools have waiting lists for admission and new schools are opening across the country. This infographic shares facts and figures about the ongoing excellence and promise of growth represented in our country’s Catholic schools.

World Meeting of Families Urban Family Report…

Diocesan representatives from The Response to Love Center attends conference on urban families in Philadelphia by


Thu, Sep 24th 2015 09:00 amStaff Reporter

WMOF Poster Philadelphia 2015
A painting displayed at the World Meeting of Families. (Courtesy of DOB Family Commission)

On Wednesday, the same day Pope Francis was in Washington, D.C., meeting with President Barack Obama and many American bishops, the World Meeting of Families was held in Philadelphia. Michael Gilhooly, assistant director of the Response to Love Center in Buffalo, attended one of the workshops held there, entitled “In the City: Concerns of the Urban Family,” which addressed the concerns that plague many urban families whose members end up caught in a cycle of poverty and violence.

The World Meeting of Families and the papal visit were part of a huge, international event, with people from all over the world flocking in droves to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. “There are a lot of people. It’s a very diverse crowd – people from all over the world are here, different colors, different languages. It’s very electrifying. The whole city has turned out – there are posters everywhere, signs and billboards everywhere welcoming the pope,” Gilhooly remarked. “The newscast last night, half of the newscast was about the pope’s visit. This is the biggest event that’s happened in the city.”

The Response to Love Center, which offers food, material and spiritual support to many low-income families in the Diocese of Buffalo, sees the results of urban poverty every day. In Philadelphia, Gilhooly attended a breakout session where Rev. Terrence D. Griffith, pastor of the First African Baptist Church in Philadelphia, spoke about the challenges of urban families, who are often minorities. Rev. Griffith, whose church is 205 years old and is the oldest African-American Baptist church in the state, spoke about how since crime rates are higher in urban areas, children experience and witness crime from very young ages, and therefore they see crime as an inescapable way of life.

In many cases, people need to address and meet their most basic material needs before even considering spirituality. Rev. Griffith touched on the fact that with homelessness, one cannot cultivate a family without their own home to live in. People’s basic human needs have to be taken care of before their spiritual needs can be met, and the fear of crime, feeling alone, having no jobs and no money will often create a seeming justification to commit crime and enter the cycle of violence themselves.

Poor health is also an issue. Contributing factors include pollution because of traffic and a lack of healthy food that stores well due to the fact that healthy foods are more expensive than fast and processed foods. This results in poor diet and health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Since industrial contamination sites are also common in cities, this often results in clusters of areas with high cancer rates. “(There are) no places to exercise, like safe parks; lack of supermarkets with fresh fruits and vegetables; poor housing stock – cold in the winter, plumbing not working, bad windows, lead poisoning, asbestos, no security, utilities being shut off – and even something just as simple as the aesthetics of decrepit housing foster a bad ‘I don’t care’ attitude among kids,” Gilhooly recalled of this presentation.

In urban settings, children often see drug houses and prostitution is a normal way of life, he added, and education is lacking, leading to teens dropping out of school and “propagating the cycle of poverty, generation after generation,” Rev. Griffith said. Additionally, public transportation often does not provide a reliable means of transportation from cities into suburbs, where jobs are often concentrated.

However, he emphasized moments of family life can still be found and religion has a place in bettering life. “He closed by saying families need to attend church – not just the kids, but the entire family needs to worship and pray as a family. People need to understand their worth in Christ – once they do, they will demand what everyone deserves and improve the quality of their own lives,” Gilhooly said. According to Gilhooly, many families in inner cities experience things middle and upper-class families cannot even imagine, and as a result, people turn to security via gangs, alcohol and drugs, which Gilhooly said creates more of a reason for people to retreat to the comfort and safety of the Church. “The devil convinces people to abandon God’s ways with instant gratifications. They’re all lies that separate us from God,” Gilhooly said. “This separation from God causes hope to evaporate and a sense of having to fall into the bad habits, finding false idols and not caring about each other, even so far as our own family: our wife, our children. This can result in a person’s family becoming a burden instead of a blessing.” The culture of death has become part and parcel of this way of thinking, Gilhooly noted, and the unique challenges of urban life can result in a self-centered way of thinking.

This does not mean there are not both good and godly families in the urban setting, but it takes strong faith and dedication to overcome the plight of urban families, which in many cases has continued for generations without ceasing. In order to find hope and break out of the cycle of poverty, it is possible to bond as a family and find a sense of hope, even when things are hopeless, he added, and community programs such as the Response to Love Center offer material support and food so it is more likely for people to have a better quality of life, have access to nutritious food and consider the possibility of thinking about family life.

“Family is God’s way – not necessarily blood family, but the family unit and love as family,” Gilhooly said. “Our mission at the Response to Love Center is a community family. Our souls search for the family God intended. The urban family has been broken by circumstance: poverty, violence, addictions, evil, the absence of God and God’s ways. People need a quiet and secure place to retreat to from the turmoil. –


AT&T Produce Donation to Response to Love Center

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Fresh Produce for Buffalo Families

As the cost of food rises, especially fresh fruits and vegetables it is becoming increasingly difficult for the poor on Buffalo’s East Side to provide a healthy balanced diet to their families. Recognizing this need in the Western New York community, AT&T is working with the Food Bank of Western New York to provide a weekly delivery of fresh produce to Response to Love Center.

The Response to Love Center provides food to nearly 500 individuals monthly through its food pantry, and helps to support local Families, Veterans; seniors and provides Adult Education including English as a Second Language and TASC (High School Equivalency.)

Starting Monday August 31, 2015, and throughout the next 17 weeks, the Food Bank of Western New York will deliver 22 cases – approximately 800 pounds – of fresh produce, including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow onions, white potatoes, apples and navel oranges, weekly to Response to Love Center. AT&T’s contribution will result in more than 370 cases or approximately 13,600 pounds of fresh produce for our hungry neighbors in Buffalo.

“We are extremely grateful for this collaboration between the Food Bank of Western New York and AT&T, which will provide 17 weeks of fruits and vegetables to approximately 500 individuals who rely on Response to Love Center’s food pantry each month,” said Michael Gilhooly, Assistant Director of Response to Love Center. “It is a struggle for many of our clients to obtain fresh produce due to geographic and economic barriers, and this wonderful donation will provide them access to nutritious food which they might not have otherwise been able to receive.

Giving back to the community where AT&T colleagues live and work is part of the company’s corporate DNA. For 100 years, AT&T employees have been donating their time and talents to support underserved populations and strengthen communities.

“AT&T’s generous contribution and partnership with the Food Bank helps us to fulfill our mission to obtain and distribute nutritious food to the hungry in Western New York through our 326 member agencies, including Response to Love Center.” said Marylou Borowiak, President & CEO of the Food Bank of Western New York

To see Channel 2 Video CLICK HERE

Catholic Youth: Neighbors in Action

Catholic Youth: Neighbors in Action at Response to Love Center
Catholic Youth: Neighbors in Action at Response to Love Center

July 2015,
Immersion trips for youth groups help young men and women understand and learn Catholic Social Teachings, faith and service in action, prayer and reflection on Sacred Scripture. The youth realize it is not about coming together for an event but a process that requires a full commitment.

Response to Love Center was blessed in hosting youth groups in the month of July.

Groups came from Michigan, Missouri, West Bend Wisconsin; their residence was the Harvest House in South Buffalo. Commuting each morning to the Response to Love Center they were greeted with encouraging words and prayer by Sister Mary Johnice.

Kathleen Majchrzak our volunteer coordinator gave the volunteer youth their service projects for the day. The experience was prayerful with a spiritual sharing and reflection at the end of the day, while enjoying some local cuisine like Buffalo style pizza and wings.

It was also an opportunity for the Sisters, Sr. Catherine, Sr. Rose and Sr. Johnice to share their vocation story and lead in a reflection on their individual and communal call and response with their “YES” to serve God and the mission of the Church, leading by example, as Francis of Assisi said;
“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Rich Product’s Community Service Day.

Response to Love Center Hosts a Rich Product’s Community Service Day.
Response to Love Center Hosts a Rich Product’s Community Service Day.

July 28, 2015
Response to Love Center Hosts a Rich Product’s Community Service Day.

The Response to Love Center had a wonderful opportunity to partner with Rich Products.

The Buffalo headquarters hosted over 200 leaders from their offices around the world. The week long conference included a Community Service Day that served many purposes – team building activities and a way for their associates from different states and countries to get to know one another and serve together; a platform for them to learn about Buffalo; and the benefit of bringing back what they learned to their own regions.

16 Rich Products volunteers from China, Kenya, Georgia (USA) and the Buffalo area learned about the mission at Response to Love Center. They engaged in the dining room, food pantry, special projects and client interaction.

All who were part of the day’s event were inspired by the “Felician Threesome,” Sisters Mary Catherine, Sr. Mary Rose, and Sister Mary Johnice; the staff and volunteers hospitality and the client’s joy.

In gratitude, Rich Products presented a donation of $1000 for the needs and services of the mission at Response to Love Center.

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15th Annual Food Bank of WNY Motorcycle Run & Benefit Party

15th Annual Food Bank of WNY Motorcycle Run & Benefit Party

SAVE THE DATE…Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Each month nearly 100,000 less fortunate Western New Yorkers turn to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other emergency food providers for assistance. Since 1979, the Food Bank of Western New York has been helping individuals in need by acting as a bridge between available food sources and agencies servicing them. 39,000 of those served by the Food Bank of Western New York’s member agencies are children while 8% are seniors. In addition to distributing food, the Food Bank has programs to further assist its agencies and educate the community about hunger among the needy in our area.

2014 Food Bank Motorcycle Run
Sr. Johnice and Mike Gilhooly at the 2014 Food Bank Motorcycle Run

The Food Bank distributes food to approximately 340 member agencies that feed the less fortunate in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties. These are child care centers, food pantries, group homes, senior programs, shelters, soup kitchens, and summer camps, including the Response to Love Center. The Food Bank of WNY provides more than 13 million pounds of food annually across the four counties it serves.

It’s time to polish those pipes, strap on those helmets and ride for the cause…Saturday, September 19th; it’s the Fifteenth Annual Food Bank of Western New York Motorcycle Run & Benefit Party. All the fun starts with a 9:30am registration for the scenic motorcycle dice run. The dice run will include stops at Squire Whites at The White Inn of Fredonia and Gowanda Harley Davidson. The starting point and more dice run stops will be announced. The run will end at the Sunset Bay Beach Club’s Benefit Party!!! Not riding? No worries, everyone is invited to the event party that kicks off at 2pm and will include basket raffles, FUNdraising, run prizes, vendors, contests, live entertainment, finger food, a cash bar and more…

Be sure to visit and join our Facebook page for more details as they become available. For volunteer, sponsorship and donation opportunities, please contact us. We thank you for your support.
Support the Food Bank of WNY


Net proceeds directly benefit The Food Bank of WNY

Visit the Facebook page  CLICK HERE

Kelly Borrello
Event Coordinator

Debbi Yoakum
Event Coordinator

Mike Billoni
Food Bank of WNY, PR

Food Bank Motorcycle Run 2015
Official Press Release March 22, 2015