A shake-up of seismic proportions for the administration of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was announced by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Thursday, June 21.
Consolidations including elimination of offices or combination of others with reduced staffing levels resulted in more than 40 employees losing their jobs.
Included in the sweeping changes was the discontinuation of The Catholic Standard and Times. After 117 years, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese, which last year became a monthly paper, ceases to publish. The recent June issue was the last of the newspaper.
Phaith magazine, which launched last September and published 10 issues through June, will suspend publication while options for resuming it are examined.
The annual Catholic Directory will continue to publish; the 2013 edition is expected to publish by late fall of 2012.
A reduced staff will continue to publish Catholic news, commentary and information on the Catholic Standard and Times’ web site, CatholicPhilly.com. A newsletter distributed via email is planned for the near future. (Sign up here.)
Archbishop Chaput wrote in his column posted to CatholicPhilly.com on June 21 that the reason for the administrative changes was primarily economic. As administrators this year planned for the 2013 budget, the fiscal year for which begins July 1, they faced a shortfall of $17 million between expected revenue and expenses, he wrote.
The figure does not include more than $11 million in legal fees over the past year, as the Archdiocese reported earlier this month.
“As burdensome as those extra costs have been, the much more troubling fact is that the Archdiocese has — for many years — covered the expense of its many good ministries with growing deficits,” he said. “These serious deficits have then been made whole with the sale of assets or the drawing down of investments. This is sometimes necessary in an emergency. But it can’t be justified or sustained as a normal way of operating.”
Despite budget and staffing adjustments, the Archdiocese will still face a budget deficit of more than $5 million for the 2013 fiscal year, the Archbishop explained.
“This can’t continue, and it won’t continue, and I’ve asked our financial staff and Archdiocesan Finance Council to do everything required by best business standards to balance our local Church’s budget by Fiscal Year 2014,” he said.
He thanked the laid-off employees, calling them “good men and women who have served the Church well.”
“Every departing employee has the respect and sincere gratitude of the Archdiocese and will be treated with maximum consideration, including appropriate severance and counseling,” he said.
Archbishop Chaput said he was taking the steps “with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our Church to a healthy footing.”
Areas of the administration concerning evangelization and youth ministry were particularly affected by the changes.
The offices for family life, respect life, deaf apostolate and formation of the laity will combine to form the Office of Life, Family and the Laity, with reduced staffing and services.
The Secretariat for Evangelization, which had been an umbrella entity for all offices related to spreading the faith, will remain as an office combined with the Office for Worship, also with reduced staffing and services.
Offices under the direction of the Vicar for Cultural Ministries, Redemptorist Father Bruce Lewandowski, will see the St. Peter Claver Center close and its work taken up by the Office for Black Catholics. The center, which served primarily black Catholics as St. Peter Claver Parish before it closed in 1985, is located in center city.
The Catholic Institute for Evangelization, an educational and cultural outreach to Latino Catholics founded in 1993, will close its site in North Philadelphia but continue its programs and educational courses in various locations throughout the Archdiocese.
The work of the Hispanic ministry team in Bucks County will be assumed by the local parishes.
These offices will be led by Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre. He also will continue to lead the Secretariat for Catholic Human Services, which includes Catholic Social Services, Catholic Health Care Services, Nutritional Development Services and the Office of Community Development.
Many of the programs of the Office for Youth and Young Adults will continue within other offices.
The Office of Catholic Education will now manage the programs of Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), while the annual Operation Santa Claus, which involves young people in distributing Christmas gifts to the needy, will operate at the local level through the individual Catholic high schools.
The Office of Cathechetical Formation will assume operation of programs including Theology on Tap and Catholic Underground, both geared to Catholic young adults. It will also take up Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Community Service Corps and Catholic scouting activities.
Camp Overbrook, the longtime summer camp offered to poor children in the Archdiocese at St. Charles Seminary, will be eliminated.
These offices will continue to be led by Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, who also oversees other offices undergoing transition.
The Metropolitan Tribunal, which primarily handles cases concerning marriage annulments, will assume the work of the Office for Consecrated Life. That office, which worked with men’s and women’s religious orders in the Archdiocese, will close.
Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas oversees the work of the Office for Communications and the former Catholic Standard and Times, which will continue primarily online.
He also oversees St. Charles Seminary. The archdiocesan seminary will soon welcome its new rector, former moderator of the curia and Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior.
Bishop Thomas also oversees the Office for Clergy, which includes the Department of Permanent Deacons. That department also saw a reduction in staffing.
One area of the administration largely unchanged is that soon to be led on July 2 by Msgr. Daniel J. Kutys, new moderator of the curia. That role is one of coordinating all the administration’s offices and entities. He will oversee offices dealing with finances, development and ongoing parish restructuring in the Archdiocese, among other offices.
One change announced June 21 was the combination of the Office for Audit Services and Office for Research and Planning into a new Office for Parish Service and Support.
In his column Archbishop Chaput likened the financial challenges to those a family might face.
“I know that few things in the Church seem less fertile than talk about money. What finally matters to all of us is the welfare – including the spiritual welfare — of the people we love. Yet as every adult knows, no family can survive for long without using its resources wisely.
“The zeal to do good things is a natural part of the Christian vocation. But it needs to be anchored in reality and guided by prudence. If we act otherwise, we ignore sound stewardship and create bigger and more painful difficulties for the future, because we can’t quick-fix our way out of problems that we behave ourselves into.”
He concluded his column by saying the Church has the duty “to serve the pastoral and sacramental needs of our own people and the poor of the wider community; to provide support for victims of sexual abuse; to protect children and families; and to defend the Catholic community in the public square.”
The Archbishop repeated words that “I’ve meant from my heart since arriving in Philadelphia: Thank you for your love of God and generous good will over these past 10 months in the face of so many demanding challenges for our Church.”
He asked Catholics of the Archdiocese to “please, in a special way, keep our departing employees and their families in your prayers.”