Sham Searches: Part 1

One of the things that most upsets us here at Boston Catholic Insider is when the Boston Archdiocese is knowingly deceptive. They pretend they are open and “transparent,” yet they say and do things that may be flat out wrong, intentionally vague, or cloaked in secrecy.  The so-called “searches” to fill key positions are among the most egregious examples of this, but it goes well beyond that.  A “sham” is defined by various sources as a “trick that deludes,” “counterfeit purporting to be genuine,” “fraud or hoax,” “pretended.” So we are calling the archdiocese’s recent and ongoing way of filling many key positions “sham searches.”  Today we talk about Sham Search #1 (Secretary for Institutional Advancement).  UPDATE: We thought Sham Search #2 was going to the search for the Exec. Director of the Mass Catholic Conference, but were incorrect based on new information we received today. Apologies for the mistake.

But before we cover that, let us look at the September 24 issue of The Pilot for some other examples of deception.  This is not a criticism of The Pilot–it is a matter of what officials tell The Pilot and let them publish.

The Priest Appreciation Dinner, held on September 16 “raised over $1 million dollars for the Clergy Funds” according to the front page photo caption.  That’s awesome!  Cardinal Sean on his blog said they realized a profit of about $1 million, but Clergy Funds Advisor Joe D’Arrigo (expensive consultant, whose contract compensation is still undisclosed) said final tallies on the net “amount raised were unavailable at press time since dinner expenses still needed to be accounted.” Sorry for nit-picking guys, but that last part is just bogus. You know how much the food cost per person when you signed the event contract, and there is a final billing invoice signed usually the evening of the event, or a day afterwards. Here is the catering menu for the Seaport World Trade Center. The event costs were probably around $70-80/person, so for 1,500 people, take $100K-$120K off the top.   They know exactly what the event netted and apparently just do not want to tell us.  Luke 16:10 reminds us to be trustworthy in small things so as to be trusted with big things.  (By the way, we are still waiting for disclosure of the names of the trustees of the Clergy Retirement Fund).

But far worse than that is John Kaneb’s comment regarding progress of recent events to raise money for the fund.  The Pilot reports that Kaneb discussed how “in 2008 the fund had a $10 million operating deficit and by next year the fund will be operating at a near zero deficit.”   That is an interesting spin to describe the condition of the fund, given that the Boston Globe reported in May 2009 that as of the end of the 2008 fiscal year, the fund had a $114 million shortfall, and officials said the pension fund will run out of money in two years without major change.   This past June, the funding gap for 2009 was reported at $109 million.  It is great that they have “trimmed” annual operating expenses today, so what comes in is about what goes out.  But they just coincidentally neglected to remind people at the dinner or in The Pilot about the Titanic-sized iceberg of future benefits they have not yet figured out how to pay, or about how the trimming or operating expenses and putting priests on government programs is working out for the clergy.  By the way, Kaneb was a dinner co-chair, is CEO and chairman of HP Hood, and according to Boston Magazine’s “The 50 Wealthiest Bostonians” is worth $600 million, so he could wipe out the fund shortfall with one check that would barely dent his net worth if he wanted to.

Back to the sham searches. Sham Search #1 is for the new head of institutional advancement for the Archdiocese.  Jack Connors, who played a key role in the cabinet rearrangement that moved out the previous Cabinet Secretary for institutional advancement, is running that search committee. By coincidence, the 2010 fund-raising initiative for his Campaign for Catholic Schools is now winding down (around $20M short of its goal) and some of the people from that campaign may be now looking for jobs.  Coincidentally, Kathleen Driscoll, President of the Campaign for Catholic Schools was named event co-chair for the Priest Appreciation Dinner, which gave her a good chance to exercise her talents and interact with a lot of priests and Pastoral Center staff.  Ms. Driscoll is a Boston College alum (just like Jack), formerly worked with Jack Connors at Hill Holliday from 1984-1992, and then went to work for John Hancock Financial Services. John Hancock became a big client of Hill Holliday, and Jack’s friend, David D’Alessandro, was chairman, president, and CEO while Kathleen was there.  Water cooler buzz around the Pastoral Center has suggested for a while that the “fix is in” for Kathleen to get the job.  After she was introduced to people at the Pastoral Center, some were advised to “be nice” to her, given she might be working closely with them in the future and/or might be their next boss. By coincidence, very few other candidates have been interviewed by a broad group of people at the pastoral center. A commenter on this blog observed that her appointment would further squeeze and pressure Cardinal O’Malley to conform the archdiocese to the vision of Jack Connors, since Connors or his cronies would control virtually all fundraising—Catholic schools, clergy retirement fund, and the Catholic Appeal.  If Connors controls all of the money flow, how could the Cardinal not kow-tow to his demands? Ms. Driscoll may be a very capable person.  Nonetheless, if we were Cardinal O’Malley, we would remove Jack Connors from the search committee and ensure that no one beholden to Jack is named to this position before it is too late.

UPDATE: We thought Sham Search #2 was going to the search for the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, but we were wrong–this one is OK, at least for right now.  MCC is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, and the person in that role needs to be energetic, articulate, solid in their faith, enthusiastically embrace Church teachings, and be passionate about bringing Church teachings and positions into the public square.  We already reported on the controversy over the search that selected the late Ed Saunders as the last MCC head.  The Pilot tells us that the well-qualified Gerry D’Avolio has been lured out of retirement to serve as interim MCC head while the search is underway for a permanent leader, and that is a good move.  Although we had heard nothing about the search for the new person, we missed the MCC press release that said Bishop George Coleman of Fall River is leading the search. Our bad. The names of people on the search committee are expected to be announced within a week.

We still suggest the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council take the matter of the “sham searches” up with the Cardinal when they meet on Wednesday evening, along with the other issues in our most recent Open Letter.  Anyone reading this post, please drop an email to Sr. Marian Batho and ask her to put all of the Open Letter points on their agenda, would you?  ( and We published the first Open Letter on August 23, and are still awaiting answers to the points raised, so hopefully by now, the archdiocese has a comprehensive response ready for the APC.

Stay tuned for more sham searches next time.

11 Responses to Sham Searches: Part 1

  1. Former Employee says:

    Two comments.

    1. While I am no defender of the Archdiocese and it’s corrupt evil ways, running an event often does result in a lag time in figuring out the net. The heavy hitters in Boston love to give verbal pledges that can’t legally be recorded. The money will often come in after the event which is their first opportunity to record it. Some of these are often very large.

    It is also notable that should they have retained consultants the “billable hours” would unlikely have come in so quick.

    In addition there might have been costs related to something like a cocktail hour, auction items given on consignment or net over cost to the organization.

    2. Driscoll will clearly be the next VP of Institutional Advancement. I watch all the trade publications and I have not seen anything on the search. Now, the defense would be that a search firm is conducting the search, if so it is one I have never heard of because all the big ones publish in the trade publications…especially for a job at this level, most Diocese do a Nationwide search….for instance, the Archdiocese of Hartford just named Ken Hokenson the former V.P. at the RCAB and Springfield Diocese (and a former Providence Diocese employee) their Director.

    Naturally there is always the possibility that someone else who has absolutely zero (or very close to it) experience doing the grunt work associated with running a multi-million dollar Annual Fund could be named….

    • Former employee,
      Thanks for your insightful comments. We do realize there is lag time due to pledges from the heavy-hitters coming in after the event. But given that the big expenses would have been known and accounted for by the event date or shortly thereafter, if they were waiting for some additional donations, then they could have more accurately said “We netted at least $900K and are awaiting/hoping for some additional donations.” Their saying essentially, “We raised $1M but do not know what the event actually cost well enough to ball-park the net” does not sound believable.

      Good points on the search. Sounds like you are right on the mark there.

  2. says:

    On the MCC Search, the Archdiocese released this information last week. It explains that Bishop Coleman is leading the Search Committee and where that stands. It is available on the Archdiocese’s website.

    Gerald D. D’Avolio, Esq. Appointed Executive Director on An Interim Basis For The Massachusetts Catholic Conference

    September 20, 2010

    Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) Board of Governors has announced the appointment of Gerald D. D’Avolio, Esq. as Executive Director of MCC on an interim basis. He will fill the seat held since 2005 by the late Edward F. Saunders, Esq., who passed away on August 28, 2010. Mr. D’Avolio previously served as Executive Director of MCC from 1976 until his retirement in 2004. He will serve until a successor to Mr. Saunders is appointed.

    The MCC Board of Governors includes Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley (Archbishop of Boston), Bishop George W. Coleman (Bishop of Fall River), Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell (Bishop of Springfield), and Bishop Robert J. McManus (Bishop of Worcester). Since 1969, the MCC has served as the public policy arm of the four Catholic dioceses in the Commonwealth. The MCC speaks not only to specific legislative proposals and administrative procedures, but reflects also on the major human and social moral issues of the day.

    The Bishops said, “We are pleased that Gerry D’Avolio has again accepted the call to serve the Church. He is an experienced, knowledgeable and respected Catholic who knows well the legislative process from his many years as Executive Director. Gerry brings a steady and reassuring presence to the position and we look forward to his leadership at this time.”

    “I am honored to assist the Bishops,” said Mr. D’Avolio. “Due to the most unfortunate and sudden death of attorney Ed Saunders, the former Executive Director of the Catholic Conference, this appointment as Executive Director on an interim basis is necessary to carry on the day-to-day function, policies and programs of the office. I will seek to serve the Cardinal and the Bishops to the best of my ability as the search for a permanent successor moves forward. I am blessed to be able to once again work with a well qualified and dedicated staff, and I welcome their assistance as we carry on the mission of the Church throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

    A graduate of Boston English High School and the University of Connecticut, Mr. D’Avolio earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He was an officer in the United States Marines and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, attaining the rank of captain, and entered the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring in 1995 with the rank of Colonel.

    From 1969-1974 he served as Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in both the Criminal and Industrial Accidents Divisions.

    Gerry and his wife Donna live in Salisbury. He has two children and they have five grandchildren.

    The MCC Board of Governors has authorized the creation of a search committee to recommend a permanent appointment for the Executive Director’s position. The search committee will be chaired by Bishop George Coleman of the Diocese of Fall River.

    It is anticipated that final selections of search committee members will be made in the coming week and that the committee will then commence its work. As of this time no date has been established for the appointment of a new Executive Director.

    • PriestsforTransparency,
      Thanks for the information. We missed that part about Bishop Coleman running the search. That bodes well for the prospect of an independently run search. We have made a correction to the original post and look forward to hearing who else is on the committee. Sorry about that readers. Our bad.

      • Fr. K says:

        ….but it doesn’t mean that the other bishops (including Coleman) won’t ultimately bow to Boston’s will. Who’s on the committee is the key.

      • Anna says:

        I agree this is an improvement but many questions remain. Who is on the committee, who will make the ultimate decision, etc.

        One major problem remains. Hehir remains in place as the supervisor. This meeans that gummimg up lobbying will contine no matter who is chosen.

        Hehir must be removed from overseeing this apostolate. We need to lobby the other bishops on this.

  3. Insider says:

    I have a close friend that told me the Boston Archdiocese has used Korn/Ferry for their exec searches. Has anyone tried contacting them?

  4. says:

    To the Search Committee: Jack Connors (Chair), Jane Mancini-Puliafico (Vice-Chair), Fr. Bryan Parrish, Kevin Gill, Jack McCarthy, Fr. Robert Murray and Fr. Brian Kiely.

    Please share information about:
    1. Where the search is at (over 3 months after the committee was announced)
    2. How good candidates can submit their resumes for the role
    3. Whether this will be Jack Connors’ decision or whether it’s a democratic vote of the committee to nominate someone to the committee
    4. Anything to refute the sense that this search is a sham.

    Here’s the press release of June 16

    Archdiocese Announces Search for New Development Chief
    Interim Secretary for Institutional Advancement Named
    Braintree, MA – The Archdiocese of Boston announced the appointment of a search committee to help in the selection of a new Secretary of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation. In addition the Archdiocese also announced the appointment of an Interim Secretary until such time as the search is completed. Kevin Kiley, Director of Budget and Planning for the Archdiocese, has agreed to serve as the Interim Secretary of Institutional Advancement and Interim Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation beginning July 1, 2010.

    The members of the search committee include: Jack Connors (Chair), Jane Mancini-Puliafico (Vice-Chair), Fr. Bryan Parrish, Kevin Gill, Jack McCarthy, Fr. Robert Murray and Fr. Brian Kiely.

    Very Reverend Richard M. Erikson, Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia, said, “The Cardinal and I are very grateful for Kevin’s graciousness and generosity in leading the Catholic Foundation during this time of transition. The Archdiocese continues to be blessed by the gifts of time, treasure and professional expertise from many wonderful people. I am grateful to Kevin Kiley and the search committee for their commitment to serve Christ and to help Cardinal Seán in rebuilding and healing our local Church.”

    Kevin Kiley has served with the Archdiocese for all but two years since 1991. A 1987 graduate of Suffolk University, he currently serves as Director of Budget and Planning and most recently oversaw the move and design of Diocesan offices from Brighton to Braintree. Kevin and his wife are the proud parents of four children residing in Marshfield where they are parishioners of St. Christine Parish. A Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, Kevin is brother-in-law of Lieutenant Colonel Paul K. Hurley currently serving as a Chaplain with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan and who is an ordained Priest of Boston (class of 1995). Fr. Erikson added, “Kevin has demonstrated leadership abilities which will serve the Catholic Foundation and the Archdiocese of Boston well in his new role.”

    On May 27, 2010, the Archdiocese announced the establishment of a new Catholic Media Secretariat under the leadership of Scot Landry, the current Secretary for Institutional Advancement. This new Secretariat will oversee all the archdiocese’s broadcast, print and Internet entities.

  5. Tom says:

    What about the sham facebook/website “I am Catholic: We are the Church” at ? It was publicized in the September 24th Patriot Ledger ( ).

    Drop “the” from the second part of the name, and you get the trendy liberal phrase “We are Church.”

  6. […] is a correction to our post from yesterday.  We mentioned the search for the new head of the Mass Catholic Conference was a “sham search, […]

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