We pause from our previous discussion of the Caritas Christi acquisition to talk about the Chancery layoffs.  The layoff notices hit.  21 positions were affected—about 10% of the pastoral center staff.  Of those, some were open slots that will no longer be filled, some people had salaries reduced, and 11 people were actually laid off.  This has been discussed for several months, so inside the Pastoral Center, it was not surprising, but it still affects people you know and have worked with for a while.  Vicar General, Fr. Richard Erikson sent an email to the Pastoral Center staff, which we excerpt below.

Fr. Erikson writes, “Every effort was made to reduce operational costs where possible in order to minimize the number of positions impacted.”  Well, maybe not every effort.  It is noteworthy that the salaries of top earners—people like schools superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill, general counsel Beirne Lovely, Chancellor James McDonough, Communications Secretary Terry Donilon, Catholic Media Secretary Scot Landry, and others–which had been reduced by 5-10% from 2009-2010 “until conditions permit restoration to their agreed upon salary” were raised back up to their previous levels.   With the archdiocese trying to close a $3.5 million budget shortfall, they lay off a dozen low-level people, keep everyone making six-figures and up, and they raised back the salaries of everyone earning more than $100K because now “conditions permit restoration to their agreed upon salary.”  (You can see what a sample of those cost savings were for selected people at the end of this post).

That last part does not make sense. What “conditions” have improved?  There was a $3.5M budget deficit.  People are being laid off.  In the last few days, we have heard news reports that weekly jobless claims are up, May home sales hit a record low—the lowest level in 47 years, and consumer confidence cratered by almost 10 points in June, which means consumer spending could tumble and the economy could be further imperiled. With layoffs and all of  these negative economic indicators and a bleak job market, one would think that the archdiocesan bean-counters would just tell all of the higher-paid employees that with private sector employees losing their jobs left and right, frankly they are lucky to have a job, so suck it up and accept the slightly reduced salary from when you started for another year, because you’re probably not going to find something better out in the private sector right now.

Anyway, here are excerpts from the email message that Fr. Richard Erikson sent out this week. If you have perspectives on the layoffs, please share them via comments or private email with us. Also try taking our new poll below.

Good Afternoon,

At our April, May and June Pastoral Center Staff meetings, we presented updates on the budget challenges and processes as we are wrapping up this fiscal year and, as of 1 July, beginning another.

The focus of our budget process and consultations has been on strengthening our mission in areas that are in line with the priorities established by Cardinal Seán and the Cabinet.  Mission priorities include a strong commitment to evangelization, improved parish support, strengthening our Catholic schools and support for our social service ministries dedicated to improving the lives of our most vulnerable.  Efforts are well underway to address the stability of the clergy pension fund, and we are addressing long-term needs related to our lay pension fund.  Pastoral planning is an essential component of where we are heading as an Archdiocese in the years ahead, and we continue to dedicate resources to this critical mission.

In finalizing our Fiscal 2011 budget we have met our commitment of a balanced budget despite an original projected shortfall of $3.5 million. Over the past few months, all offices and ministries were asked to reduce overall operational expenses.  Similar to Fiscal 2010, significant budget reductions across the board will be implemented.  I am grateful and inspired by the collaborative approach to the budget process and tackling these challenges by Agency Directors, Department Heads and Cabinet Secretaries.  Similar to last year, over 40 of our offices and ministries came to round table meetings with our budget and finance staff to review and discuss the mission and budget of each office. Approved budgets [and in some cases revised] will be provided to Agency Directors and Department Heads no later than Friday, July 16, 2010.

Everyone is deeply concerned about personal impact of our decisions, especially on our colleagues who are losing their jobs.  At the same time we are all committed to continuing the work of rebuilding and healing our Archdiocese. We pray for and work toward a day in the near future when these tough choices are no longer necessary.

The following is a brief listing of measures taken that will impact Pastoral Center staff members and operations:

  • For the third year in a row, our lay staff will not receive an increase to their base wages.
  • Priest and Religious staff members will receive a 2.8% stipend increase.
  • Individuals paid $100,000 or more who had their pay reduced for one year by 5% and in some cases 10% during FY2010 will have their pay restored to previous levels as agreed to last July.
  • Nearly all travel and conference budgets have been reduced.
  • Operational expenses have also been cut in order to preserve jobs. I ask again in FY2011 that you remain diligent at conserving expenses and to think about the costs associated with things like catering, office supplies, printing/copying, etc.
  • In recognition of the third consecutive year of a pay freeze for our lay staff members, many of whom have had to take on additional duties since 2007 and who, as a result, have taken minimal time off, we will be releasing our Pastoral Center staff at 1 pm on Fridays from July 2 through September 4.  This decision is made primarily as a way to honor your hard work and dedication.  It will also allow us to lower our energy consumption during the peak energy consumption months.

The most difficult steps we have taken this week, as in recent years, is a reduction in staff. Every effort was made to reduce operational costs where possible in order to minimize the number of positions impacted.

In total twenty-one positions from central ministries have been impacted through lay-offs, position eliminations and/or adjustments, freezing of open positions and salary reductions. For those whose positions are being eliminated, Human Resources will work closely regarding benefits advice.  Severance and additional health insurance coverage will be provided as well as outplacement services. Your departure is the hardest part of this process for you mean so much to us and to the Church.

I know that steps like this impact people, families, colleagues, departments, parishes, schools and ministries. We have taken these steps and several others to achieve a balanced budget and to be good stewards of the resources we have been given.  Ministries and Departments impacted as a result are as follows: Parish Services, Clergy Services, Cardinal’s Office, Finance/IT, Office of New Evangelization, Catholic School Office, Cultural Diversity,  Building Services, Human Resources.

Let us pray for all those who will be leaving us, and for their families, in this time of transition. Cabinet Secretaries have been asked to make sure we honor and thank those who are leaving us in a fitting way.

On behalf of Cardinal Seán and all those who have worked so hard to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we offer our prayers and our support during these challenging times.


Fr. Rich

Salaries of Selected Top Earners in Archdiocese of Boston, and 1-Year Savings from Salary Reductions, now restored for 2010-2011.

High Paid Archdiocesan Employee Salary Savings
Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education $325,000 $32,500
Beirne Lovely, General Counsel $300,000 $30,000
Scot Landry, Secretary for Catholic Media $250,000 $25,000
James McDonough, Chancellor $250,000 $25,000
Jim Walsh, Assoc. Superintendent of Schools $185,270 $  9,264
Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications $166,000 $  8,300
Janet Benestad, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization $150,000 $  7,500
  $1,626,270 $137,564

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