BUFFALO, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University recognized five big-hearted Western New Yorkers, one posthumously, with Gaudete Medals at the 12thannual awards dinner here last week.
Honorees for 2007 include Edward C. Cosgrove, former Erie County district attorney; Angelo Fatta, Ph.D., president of BuffLink, Inc.; Jill and Jim Kelly, founders of Hunter’s Hope; and the late Sr. Karen Klimczak, S.S.J., founder of Bissonette House.
St. Bonaventure’s Gaudete (gow-DAY-tay) Medals honor business and community leaders who exemplify the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi through their joy, hope, positive outlook on life, sincerely compassionate spirit and desire to serve humankind. Recipients of the Gaudete, which means “Rejoice” in Latin, have inspired, encouraged and enlightened others through their personal and professional lives.
The awards dinner on March 22 at Buffalo’s Statler Towers was organized by co-chairs John Berger, a member of SBU’s class of 1988, and his wife, Suzanne.
The university has awarded Gaudete Medals to a variety of recipients since 1996. Through the years, award ceremonies have been held in three New York cities — Buffalo, Rochester and Manhattan.
“We are so proud to honor all of these remarkable people with our Gaudete Medal,” said university president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF. “They are shining examples of joyful service, making visible and sustained contributions that change the lives of others around them. I only wish that Sr. Karen could be there to accept this honor. I know her spirit will fill the room.”
Edward Cosgrove, Esq
Edward Cosgrove, a Western New York attorney, is one of the originators of the Diocese of Buffalo’s Retirement Fund for the Religious Drive. Since 1988, the drive has raised more than $19 million for the elderly and infirmed sisters and priests. Cosgrove initiated the drive luncheon and has been its sponsor for the last 19 years.
Cosgrove has been chair of the Board of Trustees of Christ the King Seminary and D’Youville College. The Buffalo News named him Outstanding Citizen of Buffalo as district attorney of Erie County in 1977.
Cosgrove and his wife, Dorothea, a former high school teacher who was a member of the Diocesan School Board for 14 years, are the parents of four children and live in Orchard Park.
Angelo Fatta, Ph.D.
Dr. Angelo M. Fatta was president and CEO of ACTS Testing Labs with 10 offices in six countries. After the sale of his company in 1998, he served as president of BuffLink, Inc., a private, nonprofit corporation founded in 2001 by private sector and university leaders to catalyze Buffalo Niagara’s life sciences economy. BuffLink’s other activities include supporting life sciences companies and related projects, participating in marketing of the region, and the development of life sciences venture capital.
Fatta is chairman of the board of trustees of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which is in the midst of a $30 million endowment campaign. He is past chair of the Board of Directors of Cradle Beach Camp, a former trustee of Canisius College, a past director of the Western and Central New York Automobile Association of America, and the Shaw Festival.
Fatta and his wife, Carol, are founders of The Fatta Foundation, a charitable foundation supporting the welfare and development of children in Western New York. He is manager of Fatta Enterprises, LLC, a private investment group. He and his wife have two children.
Jill and Jim Kelly
Jill and Jim Kelly’s lives changed forever when their son, Hunter, at the age of six months, was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Krabbe Disease. Doctors did not expect Hunter to live past the age of two but through love, support, and courage, Hunter surpassed expectations and celebrated eight years of life. He passed away in August 2005.
In 1997, the Kellys — Jim, the NFL Hall of Famer and Buffalo Bills’ legend, and Jill — started their own foundation, Hunter’s Hope, in their basement. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $14 million to leukodystrophy and other neurological disease-related research. Jill Kelly said she attributes all of her strength and all of her son’s successes to her faith in God.
As CEO of Hunter’s Hope, Jill helps leukodystrophy children and their families by raising awareness and research funds for these devastating diseases. Jill and Jim have shared Hunter’s story and the hope of Hunter’s Hope all over the world. They have appeared nationally on many TV shows, including “Oprah,” “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” The Discovery Channel, ESPN and Fox Sports.
Jim and Jill have also told Hunter’s story in many national publications, including USA Today, McCall’s, Reader’s Digest and People. Jill is a co-host for a weekly TCT television show called “A Different View.”
Karen Klimczak, SSJ
Sr. Karen Klimczak, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Buffalo, dedicated her life to manifesting the healing presence of Jesus, whatever situation she was in.
Born into a family of two sisters and nine brothers, Sr. Karen graduated from St. Michael School in Lackawanna, and Immaculata Academy in Hamburg, N.Y. She earned a bachelor’s in education from Westfield (Pa.) State College and a master’s in pastoral study from Loyola University in Chicago. She professed final vows with the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in 1967 and transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1979.
Sr. Karen ministered in the field of Catholic education for almost 20 years; her last teaching assignment was at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Buffalo.
In 1985 she began Hope House, a ministry to recently released prisoner, which gave many men, of all faiths, a second chance at life. Sr. Karen renamed the ministry Bissonette House in honor of Rev. Joseph Bissonette, a strong proponent of nonviolence who was murdered at that house in 1987.
Tragically, Sr. Karen also became a victim of violence at the house on April 14, 2006, Good Friday. Her sister, Sr. Jean Klimczak, S.S.J., accepted the medal on her behalf.
The photo above shows, from left to right, Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, SBU president; Edward Cosgrove, Esq.; Dr. Angelo Fatta; Sr. Jean Klimczak, OSF; and Jill Kelly.