Thanks-Giving Cronyism?

Welcome back! We hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

Before we get into the topic for today—another example of what one reader called the “dysfunctional personality of the RCAB”–we have another announcement about upcoming events.  Over the weekend we posted about one event this coming Saturday evening, December 4, with Cardinal Raymond Burke in Boston to raise money for scholarships at Thomas More College.  We had no sooner finished that post than it came to our attention we failed to mention the St. Johns Seminary scholarship concert fundraising dinner, also taking place this Saturday, December 4, starting at 5:30pm.  Click here for more information about the SJS event.  Both are worthwhile causes, and we are hard-pressed to advise which to attend and/or support.   Regardless of your event preference or financial means, you can also attend the St. Johns Seminary annual celebration of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 5 at 3pm for free.

Now to our topic for today, which is how cronyism and dysfunction occurs even when the archdiocese is doing something good, like giving thanks to outstanding workers and volunteers.

A few days ago, the archdiocese gave annual Cheverus Awards to 98 people. These recognize service by men and women from across the archdiocese to their parishes, schools and other Catholic entities.  The Pilot article says that recipients are nominated by their pastors or auxiliary bishops and approved by Cardinal O’Malley. (In reality though, there is not much of an approval process–if someone is nominated, they basically will get an award).

Most of the 98 recipients are long-time parish workers (who get paid very low salaries or no salary whatsoever), religious, or parish or local volunteers. Others fit in a category of being significant long-time benefactors to the archdiocese.  The huge majority of the award recipients are well-deserving of the awards as best as we can tell.  But the awards just would not be complete here in Boston without there being a few recipients who work for the archdiocese and collect 6-figure paychecks for their work—and they caused the “cronyism meter” here at Boston Catholic Insider to buzz.  First we highlight a few examples of the many recipients who are clearly well-deserving of the award, and then a few who are already paid in excess of $150K/year by the archdiocese and whose names do not feel to us like they belong on the same list as the others.

Well Deserving Award Recipients

As we said a moment ago, the huge majority of the recipients are clearly well-deserving of the awards.  We do not know about all of their backgrounds, and by highlighting several we know of, we do not mean in any way to minimize the outstanding contributions of everyone else—it is a matter of space and the reality that we do not know everyone.

  • Jack Schaughnessy, Sr. : Has given millions of dollars to the archdiocese over the years, as well as and to a wide range of Catholic Church related causes including the Blessed John XXIII Seminary, Caritas Christi, Catholic Charities, BC High School, Nativity Prep, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and others.  He is a humble, faithful man and keeps out of the limelight.  Jack Connors could learn more than a few things about humility from this “Jack.”
  • Merry Nordeen:  spearheaded the “Choose Life” license plate drive for Massachusetts.
  • Brother Bede Benn, a Xaverian Brother, taught children and adults for nearly 50 years, and recently celebrated his 70th anniversary as a brother in service to the Church.
  • Sr. Anne D’Arcy, CSJ: we are told she has worked for the Boston archdiocese for some 50 years. Coincidentally,  her brother is Bishop John D’Arcy, a former Boston Auxiliary Bishop who retired in 2009 as bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend (and was the oldest bishop governing a diocese) shortly after he took a strong stance opposing Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama.

We are not able to go into all of the other names–these just highlight a few we readily recognized and knew enough about to highlight for you.  Then there is the other category.

Do These Names Belong on the List?

Two names of people who collect paychecks in excess of $150K/year from the archdiocese jumped out at us as just not necessarily fitting with the other recipients—Kevin Kiley and Joe D’Arrigo.

  • Kevin Kiley is the deputy budget director who served as interim head of development for 4-5 months after the previous person in the role was pushed out by Chancellor McDonough and Jack Connors.  Kiley also had helped coordinate the move of the archdiocesan headquarters from Brighton to Braintree—a move that occurred in 2008, and for which he was amply recognized already by the Cardinal while, coincidentally, others at a lower level who did more work and really made the move happen went unrecognized. He has worked for the archdiocese for all but 2 years since 1991 and is also considered to be Chancellor McDonough’s most trusted and loyal advisor.  Does that make him worthy of an award, let alone to be recognized along with the others above?  And it should be remembered that he also already gets paid $150K+ for doing his day-job.
  • Also, sources tell us that back a few years ago, Kevin used to moonlight by doing the books for multiple parishes as their accountant while also, coincidentally, being in charge of the RCAB audits for those same parishes.  In other words, it would seem that he was both the auditor–who determined whether or not the parishes passed the “sniff test”—and the accountant whose work he was assessing.

  • Joe D’Arrigo: is a consultant working on the Clergy Retirement Fund. We are told he has done a great job stabilizing the fund, and we know he has also done work for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. We are not criticizing Joe personally, as we do not know exactly what he was recognized for.  The question is simply the following: while his current work for the archdiocese pays him handsomely, does he belong on the award recipient list at this time along with the other people whose service or contributions are largely voluntary or who are low-paid?

To be fair, the huge majority of the recipients are well-deserving of the awards and we think the awards are a good idea. But it seems dysfunctional and suggestive of cronyism to have recipients who collect six-figure salaries from the Church on the same list of award recipients as those who give six-figure or seven-figure contributions to the Church.  Shouldn’t there be some rule that if an employee is at a director-level or above and/or collects a six-figure salary already, that is sufficient recognition for their service?  Should there be some guideline that the awards should be limited to hard-working employees or volunteers who are not collecting $150K+ salaries already for their work? Beyond the matter of rules or guidelines, why would anyone even want to get an award for doing what is expected, and for which one is already being fairly compensated?

For those who want more straight-up corruption, join us here tomorrow as we continue with the next exciting episode in our series on Boston archdiocesan corruption that started with “Systemic Corruption“, “Finance Council: Conflicted, Contradictory, Corrupt?and “ Top Ethical Concerns: #3: Conflicts of Interest

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9 Responses to Thanks-Giving Cronyism?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Both Kevin and the Associate Superintendent did Parish books. The wife of the Associate superintendent also worked at the parishes.

  2. SAd Boston Priest says:

    I WISH THERE WERE A PUBLISHED LIST OF THE DIRECTORS AND MEMBERS OF THE IRISH CULTURAL CENTER … THEN COMPARE THAT LIST WITH THOSE ‘HIBERNIANS’ HOLDING PWERFUL SWAY IN THE RCAB CORP.SOLE.

    SEVERAL OF THESE FOLKS WERE ON MANY BOARDS AND COMMITTEES UNDER THE CATHOLIC CHARITY UMBRELLA,THE ANUAL CARDINAL’S GARDEN PARTY AND CONNECTED WITH MANY BOARDS FOR TROUBLED YOUTH RESIDENTIAL CENTERS DIRECTED BY CLERICS LIKE MEL SURETTE, BERNIE LANE MSGR. MACNAMARA, AND REV. JACK CURLEY etc etc, SUPPOSEDLY “SUPERVISED” BY McCORMACK, IRWIN + OTHER CATHOLIC CHARITY CLERICS.

    ANOTHER GAME OF CONNECT THE DOTS.

  3. A Priest says:

    I think any personal attacks are unwarranted and take away from the fine work that some of the named and unnamed people do for the RCAB. They also take away from the positive work that the BCI is doing. Please consider taking this stuff down and focusing the BCI on the real corruption that needs a light shed on it. The Cheverus Awards don’t come with some monetary award and are quite frankly just an “attaboy”

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why my comments have been edited and/or are awaiting moderation since they have only added to the issues already addressed in the BCI remarks regarding the awards and work at parishes.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know who most of the people on the list are, but I can say without a doubt that Jack Shaughnessy is a fine upstanding Catholic gentleman who would have been deserving of the award had he only two cents to rub together.

    I am however curious about the criteria, many of the people have last names in common with people with connections to the Archdiocese, but that certainly doesn’t mean they are not worthy.

  6. In response to the many comments we have received about this post–some public and some via private email–we would like to offer a few words of explanation and response.

    A fairly consistent theme of most of the comments was to both compliment the blog for the objective style in which we have covered the deception and corruption in the Archdiocese of Boston up to now, and to also ask us to avoid personal attacks in the posts and comments. We thought the post was consistent with our normal style when we wrote it, albeit with a bit more innuendo than usual, so we were a little surprised at the reaction on this one.

    Most of the feedback was anonymous and sufficiently general in nature that we could not point to any specific passages in the post that were concerning, but we made some subsequent edits and also moderated some reader comments that might unintentionally be seen as a personal attack. We did not moderate the comments to stifle discussion–we were trying to determine and address whatever was setting some people off.

    We level a fair amount of what we see as valid criticism on people–as do our readers here–so as to bring the deception and criticism out in the light of day and see us build a stronger Catholic Church in Boston. For those who felt our post overstepped the bounds of appropriateness, please drop us an email and let us know specifically why you felt that way.

    Otherwise, we continue shortly with the next episode.

  7. Jack O'Malley says:

    Here’s what I meant to type (I think — two open windows and no preview prior to posting — hint, wordpress, do something about this):

    I, too, have been offended by the import of this post. After all, we are talking about “awards” here — awards that mean essentially nothing. I got a merit badge for firemanship without ever having done anything more incendiary than lighting an Advent wreath.

    Let us keep the focus of this blog on the actual sins of commission and omission of the culprits at 66 Brooks and avoid the innuendo under the guise of pseudo-kudos. There is much work to be done and the corrupt triumvirate of Connors, McDonough and Hehir must be exposed, ostracised, exiled. And Cardinal O’Malley must be taken to task for at best his incompetence, even his negligence, and at worst his complicity.

    Fight the good fight, bloggers, and let the ancillary issues alone. The victory will be sweet.

    Restauretur Missa Vera!

  8. Mark S. says:

    Note to BCI bloggers: my comments above were in response to another readers comments and not the content of your posting. I don’t know Kevin, but to make rude comments about his work because he received an award seems inappropriate. It is the same when readers make personal remarks about an employee instead of the people responsible for hiring the employee. If readers don’t like the hiring outcome or process then lets work to fix it as this site appears to be trying to do, and not slander people that took a new job to help the church.

    • Carolyn says:

      Mark,

      You’re right on the money. It is completely valid for BCI to eye-roll at some of the names on the list, especially when you read the criteria for being conferred the award. And I agree with Jack, that awards are two-dimensional if there isn’t some significant realization of why an individual ( or nearly 100 of them) receive the award.

      I do think the post is valid and germane to BCI’s core intent: To illustrate conflicts of interest and profound favoritism at all levels of judgment. The Cheverus award attains some tarnish when truly worthy individuals are listed along with those who are handsomely compensated with cash.

      BCI has an admirably hands-off approach to comments. Redacting unduly personal or harsh comments is not only BCI’s right, it rises to the level of duty because so many people rely on this blog to take the high road.

      Frustration with past bad acts or bad outcomes can’t justify the posting of comments that go too far. For those posters who want to express a legitimate concern, doing so via private comment to BCI is the best route. Then if there are indeed dots to be connected, BCI can test the theory by referring to what seems to be an abundant store of fact-based accounts of shady dealings.

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