The installation and ordination of Bishop Larry J. Kulick, JCL, as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, which took place at a special service last week, has since prompted a few important leadership changes within the diocese.

Msgr. Raymond E. Riffle, MSW, MPA, has been appointed the vicar general of the diocese.

In that role, he will serve as the principal assistant to the bishop and as the moderator of the curia at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.

“I am grateful for Bishop Kulick’s confidence in me and I am hopeful that I will be able to provide him with the assistance he needs as he moves forward with the many challenges and opportunities that the Diocese is facing as he begins his time as our Bishop,” Riffle said.

Riffle will remain as rector of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, but will no longer be the managing director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg.

Riffle received a master of divinity degree in 1978 from St. Vincent Seminary. Subsequent to his ordination to the priesthood, he completed a master of arts in formative spirituality at Duquesne University in 1986, and a master of social work and a master of public administration from the University of Pittsburgh both in 1995.

Riffle has served as managing director of Catholic Charities since June 21, 1995. Since his ordination on May 5, 1979, he has held a number of positions in the diocese and its parishes. His pastoral and diocesan assignments include: Parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in North Huntingdon Township; assistant director of vocations for the Diocese of Greensburg; chaplain and teacher at Geibel Catholic High School in Connellsville; the director of vocations for the Diocese of Greensburg; chaplain at Westmoreland Hospital and Westmoreland Manor in Greensburg; chaplain at State Correctional Institution in Greensburg, diocesan director of campus ministry; pastor of St. Thomas More University Parish in Indiana, managing director of Catholic Charities; a member of the Bishop’s Cabinet of the Diocese of Greensburg; diocesan advocate for victims of sexual abuse by clergy; the pastor of St. Sylvester Parish, Slickville; pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Greensburg; chair of the board of trust administrators at Aquinas Academy in Greensburg; bishop’s delegate for clergy and church personnel sexual misconduct, and rector of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish in Greensburg.

Riffle was named a chaplain to His Holiness with the title of monsignor in 2005 and became a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 2013.

Dr. Paul A. Niemiec, LPC, will succeed Riffle as the managing director of Catholic Charities on an interim basis. Niemiec is currently the director of counseling services for Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities was established in 1954 and serves as the primary social service agency of the diocese. Its mission is to serve the needs of people in Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland counties, regardless of their faith.

“I am confident that Dr. Niemiec will serve in this position with competence and creativity as we look to securing a solid future for the agency,” Riffle said. “The Board of Trustees has been talking about developing a strategic plan for Catholic Charities for a few years now, and given the changing nature of service provision in social service agencies across the country this is a great time to engage in strategic planning. Following this evaluation process, and based on its results, we will then conduct a search for a new managing director.”

Niemiec has served the Diocese of Greensburg for almost 20 years. This past October, he received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Counseling Association.

He has also been an instructor at classes at the Community College of Allegheny County’s South Campus in West Mifflin. He has served with child welfare agencies in Westmoreland County and has taught as an adjunct professor at St. Vincent College in Latrobe for about 30 years.

After being asked to assume the interim post Niemiec responded, “I told Bishop-elect Kulick and Msgr. Riffle that I will do whatever they need me to do. In spite of everything that has been going on during this pandemic, Catholic Charities has continued serving the people in our portion of Southwestern Pennsylvania. My plan is to continue this work as best we can, with what we have been given, and in faithfulness to our mission. We will continue to treat the people that come to us with a high degree of dignity and compassion, which oftentimes they have not received in their interactions with the world at large.”

Niemiec noted that Catholic Charities has navigated many challenges in 2020 due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency had to cancel its three major fundraisers: The Communities of Salt and Light Awards Dinner, the Paul R. Smiy Memorial Golf Outing and the Designer Purse Bash. However, a six-week virtual Heroes of Hope — Guardian Angel Appeal fundraiser raised $233,950, eclipsing numerous goals set throughout the campaign. The Heroes of Hope — Guardian Angel Appeal honored those who gave their time and talents to support people in need during the pandemic. All of the funds are going to our Catholic Charities COVID-19 relief efforts.

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