Chancery announces seven layoffs
|SUPERIOR – Bishop Peter Christensen and Diocese of Superior director of administrative services, Richard Lyons, recently spoke with the Catholic Herald regarding decisions made to responsibly manage the diocese’s finances. What follows is the text of that interview.|
The Herald: The chancery recently informed seven employees that they would be laid off as of June 30 and that one vacant position would not be refilled. Specifically what offices does that affect?
Richard Lyons: We are laying off two people from the Bishop Hammes Center, two people from the finance department, two people from the permanent diaconate office, as well as a part-time maintenance person.
Herald: Where has the Diocese seen major cost increases that precipitated that decision?
Bishop Christensen: There are three areas that have created concern for our annual diocesan operating budget. First of all, about a third of our operating revenue is supplemented by our invested income. That invested income has produced reduced interest earnings due to the poor economy As a result, a portion of our investment principal had to be used. So, we have seen a decrease in our overall investments. Second, we have seen an increase in health insurance cost for our retired priests – a yearly amount of $206,000. Third, there was an endowment set up, for at least the last 25 years, to be than $35,000 per year per student – that fund has now been depleted. For the past two years, all seminarian education expenses have been provided by our yearly operating budget. Obviously, these three factors have critically affected how we are able to do business as a Diocese.
Herald: You have said the Diocese might be launching a capital campaign to help with some of these costs. Can you tell us more about that?
Bishop Christensen: We are in the process of seriously considering a capital campaign. Recently the Presbyteral Council has interviewed three fund raising consultants and has determined that Guidance In Giving best suits the needs of our Diocese. Currently we have begun a capital campaign feasibility study. This study will help determine the needs of our Diocese, as well as, the potential to raise the funds for those needs.
Herald: When you refer to the feasibility study, is that something that only parish leadership is being approached about, or are Catholics in general being approached as well?
Bishop Christensen: Both. Guidance in Giving will personally interview more than 200 people. Parish leaders will be interviewed, as well as our parishioners and interested community leaders.
Herald: Is the possibility of a capital campaign a response to the financial needs of the Diocese? Are the recent cutbacks in staffing related to the need for a capital campaign?
Bishop Christensen: They are linked. At the same time, there has always been a financial concern for our Catholic schools. We are looking to make our schools an integral part of our campaign as well. In addition to health insurance, seminarian formation and the Catholic schools, it is my hope that the campaign will help each of our parishes to raise funds for their local needs. This assistance could aid in religious education programs, adult formation, or whatever the individual parishes deem necessary.
Herald: Your average Catholic in the Diocese of Superior learning about this might wonder how would that be related to the annual Diocesan Services Appeal. Would the capital campaign replace that? Would it be in addition to that?
Richard Lyons: It is our hope that our faithful would not be asked to support a separate appeal during the first year of the campaign – both would be included in the process.
Herald: Is there anything you would like to say or make sure people understand about the possibility of a future campaign?
Bishop Christensen: People in our Diocese have been very generous Whenever there is a need, such as an emergency collection for international or national disaster relief, our people step forward in a generous way. I trust they will see the need for supporting their priests who have served them well over the years. I also know that our faithful Catholics are concerned that there will be enough priests to serve for generations to come. We hope to never have to turn seminarians away due to the lack of funds needed to educate them. Supporting Catholic education is a wonderful way to encourage our young people to enter fully into our Catholic culture of our faith. I am hopeful that people will, through this feasibility study, see that this is indeed a way for us to move forward as we look to the needs of our parishes and the growth of our Diocese as well.
© Superior Catholic Herald, May 10, 2012