Christmas Concerts, Compensation Comments

We have gotten such amazing feedback and comments on our latest post about the planned Finance Council Compensation Committee that we felt we should just share the comments with you via blog post in case you have not had a chance to read them all.

But first, if you have not yet finalized your weekend plans, we wanted to let you know about the annual Christmas Concerts performed by the Daughters of St. Paul. at their convent chapel 50 Saint Pauls Ave, Jamaica Plain.  This year it is called “A King is Born” and it is sure to be a treat for everyone from children to adults.  You can choose from either the Saturday, Dec. 11 performance at 7pm or the Sunday afternoon performance at 3pm.  Tickets are just $10.  For more information, see here or call 617-522-8911.

Compensation Comments

The comments people posted were so well thought-through and insightful, we could not do justice to them by just sharing a few excerpts, so we are giving you the whole enchilada by sharing them in today’s post.

The gist of the matter is that the archdiocese has hired a particular set of executive leaders and built a compensation structure that feels inappropriate for the Catholic Church, may have attracted the wrong people for certain jobs, and also could be seen by contributors as a misuse of donor funds.  It is also so costly as a percentage of total revenue that it is may well be financially unsustainable.

Here are the comments posted to the blog, as well as one sent via email.

Anonymous (via email)
The whole idea of a this committee will be quite foreign, and probably alarming, to the clerical cadre.  The central offices in the past were an employment opportunity for clerical workers with a high school education for those in the local area, for mid-level managers who liked the ambiance of the place, and for the retired who would take less and wished to work for the Catholic Church.  Most liked the tie-in to a “vocation” in working for an organization that was respected, but where nobody ever got rich.

That was destroyed by the scandal and its continuing aftermath. Now we have this truly crazy charade of imposing highly paid lay management on a religious organization in the hopes of what exactly?  Are there other religious denominations that do this to themselves?

  1. A. J. Constantino says:

    Great post!

    Let’s get to basics, each “lay executive employee “should be clearly defined by a Job Description; Objectives, Accountabilities and Measurements.

    Human Resources should be developing the Job Description with the hiring manager; while the objectives, accountabilities and measurements should be set by the manager and the employee and placed on file with HR.

    The question is does the RCAB have these “Standard Operating Procedures” in place?

    Next: there are countless FREE resources available to develop compensation packages =- it’s not a mystery!

    I have worked in several large companies, where the Presidents/CEOS have been anxious to use outside consultants, after paying large fees, we most often learned that no one knows our business better than we did and in the end “self-determination” was best.

    From the “outside looking in”, it appears that “lay executive employee” salaries are disporportionate to the overall RCAB budget.
    The biggest mystery is why men and women, with the background and experience of Chancellor McDonough, Mr. Connors and MS. Sen have not applied the “for profit” experience into the “non-profit” experience of the RCAB. All three have to know that the % of revenue to compensation would not be acceptable in a “for-profit” business.

    For those who may be bit put off my analysis, it’s a business world prospective, NOT a Church world perspective. In my opinion, a $100.0K-$150.0K salary for a “lay executive employee “ for the RCAB is just–with, once again, in my opinion, one exception, “in house” Legal Counsel.

    • Carolyn says:


      You are, literally, right on the money. If six people were paid between $100K and $150K, who were true leaders and put in long hours, I would be fine with it. The salary would be a good return on investment for the donors (us) and the “works” would work.

      What we have now is bloated compensation combined with questionable motivation in some cases, and questionable performance in others.

      The head of planning for RCAB came straight from Arthur D Little back in the early ’90s. (Like the day after he retired…) His salary was a staggering $1 per year after having been handsomely compensated for many years. He showed up every day, tie and coat, worked diligently in sometimes rustic office settings, and really brought his experience to the table.

      One or two of those in the mix would be a fabulous addition to a half dozen highly competent individuals paid a salary commensurate with the resources of the organization.

  2. A Priest says:

    I agree a salary of 100-150K is about right for a true executive with the right experience who wants to give back to the Church that gave him or her new life through Jesus Christ…of course over time that may rise slightly due to performance raises but the reality of the situation is; anything higher as a starting salary is bogus. I wouldn’t mind a return to priests in the Chancellor’s office, I think there are qualified guys out there who could do the job for a few years and then head back to parish life. Let’s maximize the resources we have.

  3. Disgusted Boston Priest says:

    About 20 years ago, a drumbeat began: “There soon won’t be enough priests – we need to empower the laity to run the Church!” It was, in my opinion, begun by dissatisfied and faithless priests who were afraid to promote vocations; it was repeated constantly in the seminary by many of the same priests who no longer believed in the authentic priesthood of Jesus Christ, and it began to be picked up by the liberal press, who were delighted to have another instrument to create noise in the ever-growing cacophany of anti-Catholicism.

    The euphemisms of “increased lay participation” and “empowerment” have led to the current situation in the Archdiocese of Boston (and other places), where those ordained by Christ to shepherd His Flock now find themselves beholden to [read: hostage to] an increasingly emboldened laity. However, far from the ideal spouted by those disaffected priests some twenty years ago, the group of laity who have become “empowered” are those who already knew what power is and how to use it for their own ends.

    Jack Connors was loudly and roundly touted by The Boston Globe as the solution to the problems of the Archdiocese. After all, he’s financially successful, he’s influential, he’s connected and he wants to help. The fact that Jack’s faith is pitifully uninformed (my guess is he’s somewhere in the range of a seventies Jesuit) and that he might have his eyes on some low-hanging fruit in the assets of the Archdiocese that he might be able to convert to the use of friends didn’t seem to dissuade Cardinal Sean from doing the bidding of the Globe and hiring Jack on as his chief advisor.

    Jack Connors is now being quoted as wanting to rebuild the faith – and we are surprised? In his estimation, our faith is naive and unproductive, unhelpful to the bottom line. Like so many others, Jack thinks that to cure the ills of our “business” we need to “discover” a product that sells – and because we’ve been hemorrhaging money for the last several years, he figures it must be a problem with the product – the faith of the Apostles. If only our churches, our schools, our preaching were more friendly, goes his reasoning…

    Once firmly ensconced in power at the Archdiocese, Jack has – like any good oligarch – moved quickly to consolidate and expand his power base. He’s appointed friends (I’m sorry – he’s recommended them to Cardinal Sean) to positions of power that buttress his own. He’s paid them well (oops, recommended good salaries) so that they don’t forget which side their bread is buttered on. And he’s used his new found power to reward associates in the business community, from whom he ought to expect some form of recompense.

    Jack Connors is doing what good businessmen do.

    Unfortunately, while we do need good business sense to run our finances, we don’t need a profiteering businessman like Jack Connors to run the Corporation Sole – to discard unprofitable operations (like the seminary and Catholic hospitals) and to start up new ventures (like the Dorchester school debacle) which merely utilize the hard-earned money of the faithful to build a parallel public school system.

    The reason this blog is so hated in the executive offices at Brooks Drive is that you’re paying attention to the little man behind the curtain instead of the Great and Powerful Sean. Keep it up – with Jack Connors determining the content of our faith, much more than our money is at stake!

    • Fr. D says:

      I have to agree with most of the post and some of the phraseology betrays the poster’s age. There are a lot of factors contributing to the dearth of vocations and most of it is the reaping of poorly planted seeds from past times. I don’t think Father would disagree with that observation.

      I personally have never met this Jack Connors character. He sounds like a real pip to me.

      The bottom line is that the RCAB is really weak at this time and prime for the picking and it looks like Jack has a large bag in hand and is ready to gather in the fruit of his work!

  4. Clem Kadiddlehopper says:

    Ah, Disgusted Boston Priest stole my thunder. Corporation Sole is now a corporatocracy that serves the interests of the laity that direct its operations solely for the power and benefit of said laity. You can believe it or not. I have checked with Ripley, and he verified it.

  5. catholic Data Nerd says:

    In corporate life, the creation of a compensation committee (or the publicity of an existing one) is usually an acknowledgement that people realize they have a public relations problem, a compensation problem, or both. So the creation of this compensation committee MAY be an acknowledgement that many leaders are acknowledging a problem. That might be a sign of progress at 66 Brooks.

    A key question is whether the compensation committee idea was one of McDonough’s/Connor’s (to deflect accountability from them) or one forced on McDonough from O’Malley, Erikson and others (to bring the decisions back into a more normative salary band). Either way, it’s clear McDonough or someone with familiarity with corporate boards wrote the language you pasted above.

    The questions BCI poses above are all good ones. Identifying the appropriate benchmark or comparable organizations is key and other Northeast diocesan compensation is the BEST comparable.

    Having studied executive compensation as part of my day-to-day duties, and having followed the Church for a while, I’d make a few notes to the post and comments above:

    1. Comp salary bands should have distinctions depending on the type of candidate: (a) priest (comp is pre-determined); (b) religious (comp is pre-determined); (c) deacon (hybrid comp between clergy and layperson comp, assuming that they are still have many dependents); (d) layperson “after” prime of their career (who is “giving back” to the Church like the Chancellor or the general counsel); (e) layperson “in the prime” of their career who still has young dependents to put through Catholic schools, college, etc. (which seems true of about half of the highly comped staff members)

    2. Comp bands of $100-150K for key positions seem justified in this market. To get someone “extra” good or who needs more to take the role (see 1e above), the comp should only be increased IF a benefactor underwrites the comp above $150K. Those “heavy hitters” on the finance council that recommend key people for high comp should be willing to fund some part of these positions’ higher salaries. For example, if Connors and the Campaign for Catholic Schools was subsidizing Dr. O’Neill’s salary of $325K, it would be much more acceptable.

    3. While the Chancellor role probably should be the highest paid role (if occupied by a layperson), given McDonough’s previous business success, why didn’t anyone seem to ask him to work for a lower figure (let’s say $100K) or why didn’t he volunteer to do this PARTICULARLY when he was letting go many people who made <$50K/year in several rounds of cuts? Does he REALLY need that salary? What does it say to him that he continues to take it?

    4. In whose judgment did anyone think it made sense to pay a very successful lawyer at the end of his working career $300,000? Whoever made that determination should be willing to subsidize the position with outside funds. This is nothing against the individual in question, who is hard-working and productive, it’s just shocking that a lawyer over 70 years old needs to make $300K to be interested in taking the role to help his Church and to give back.

    5. Generally speaking, the principle that a person working for the Church should always be making somewhat less than they could make in the private sector should be part of this new “compensation philosophy” that the committee recommends. Never should we have a situation where we need to pay someone MORE to dedicate themselves to the Church. That seems the case with the superintendent of schools and several of the people that report to the Chancellor.

    6. On the compensation committee, common-sense pastors who need to ask for Appeal contributions should be the majority of the compensation committee. They need to tell the Finance Council members that there are no real “executives” in the Church, just “servants” of the Word of God who work with pastors and other leaders to advance the Church’s mission. Pastors are there to insist that the focus be maintained on who is actually paying for these salaries and what is justified to them, vs. these “professional board members” who are professionals at spending other people’s money.

    Good work BCI.

    • Objective Observer says:


      Terrific analysis and summary. A pastor is the primary representative of the ordinary in the parish (canon law). In English, that means that he represents the cardinal to the people, and the people to the cardinal. These priests should be at the table, joined by men and women whose notion of fiduciary duty and unambiguous ethical direction are unimpeachable.

    • A Priest says:

      CDN…awesome post!


Much appreciation for the compliments on our original post!  And thanks to all for taking the time to write out your insightful comments in response.  We may just send these to the Finance Council and Archdiocesan leadership team, but you should also forward this to your pastor and/or local Archdiocesan Pastoral Council Member.  More next time!

6 Responses to Christmas Concerts, Compensation Comments

  1. Charlie Rice says:

    Job descriptions and basic salary ranges once existed at RCAB. My guess is that they are so busy in the Pastoral Center creating new jobs that there is no time left to handle the basics, such as job descriptions and salary ranges, let alone justification for the new positions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Notwithstanding the great content of this post, thank you for plugging the Daughters of St. Paul concert in Jamaica Plain. The good sisters give a quality performance and deserve the attention given!

  3. BH says:

    The Daughters do great work and their Christmas performances are always fantastic. I highly recommend!

  4. Anonymous says:

    RCAB has paid outside consulting firms to assist in the development of job descriptions and the establishment of job grades for each position a number of times. Each time, the system has not been adhered to because of a number of exceptions and lobbying by different managers. Essentially, management has bastardized the system.

    It has been no more evident than it is under McDonough’s regime. There is no way that the current salaries for “a chosen few” would fit in their previous structures. Also, there has been a lot of attention paid to the gross salaries of a number of individuals previously mentioned on this site. If one were to have the information on the salary histories on these individuals, it would be abundantly clear on the way McDonough has favored a few individuals with no good reason other than his own personal relationships with them. No have been no salary increases for the general population, but for these individual, this have been circumvented with numerous restructuring and “phony” promotions which have been nothing more than gimmicks to increase compensation. We all know the individuals I am referring to.

    • Carolyn says:

      In today’s Globe, James McDonough is quoted:

      McDonough said it could take many years for the pension fund to become fully funded again, but when it is, the church hopes to redirect the money it had been paying toward stabilizing the fund toward other employee benefits. He said employees have not had a raise in four years.


      In 2006, the current chancellor swept into 2121 and doled out some handsome increases. In July 2006, 2007 and 2008 virtually every employee received a raise, and many, as stated above by Anonymous, jumped to super salaries by the sleight of hand of changing their titles.

      RCAB is free to soft toss to Lisa so she can soft toss back, but someone might have wanted to check the facts. Perhaps the chancellor himself should become more familiar with compensation at RCAB before he speaks on the record.

      Oh wait, that would mean knowing his job. Nevermind.

  5. enoughisenough says:

    Instead of fixating on ’emboldened laity’, maybe a place to fixate is on the obvious abdicator leadership style of the curent archbishop. Nature abhors a avacuum, and he’s created one.
    Clerics need not fear the laity, nor should they lord it over them.
    Yes, the current Chancellor is a public disaster waiting to happen. Yes, the moneychangers seem in charge of the temple locally.
    Maybe the case needs to be makde to the Nucio that it is now time for new leasership in boston…leadership that removed the bunker mentality of the clergy and invite the laity to collaborate in areas of expertise…whihc may not be theology.
    Is there a current day Nehemaiah who will rebuild the community of faith in Boston?

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