Diocese: Reduces work force
MADISON -- The Diocese of Madison recently reduced its work force by five full-time positions and two part-time positions, representing approximately 10 percent of its work force.
The reductions occurred in the diocesan central offices located at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center and the Department of Cemeteries.
Investment income shortfalls were the primary reasons for the reductions in our work force, said Greg Keller, director of the Diocese of Madison's Office of Finance.
"We cut everything we could from other items while increasing this year's Diocesan Services Appeal by 11 percent but it got to the point where we had no other recourse. There was just no other way to close the gap," said Keller. "Last year we did not raise the Diocesan Services Appeal at all, knowing that times were hard and everyone was feeling the effects of a down economy. Unfortunately 12 months later, the picture got worse instead of better. Seventy-five percent of our expenses are salary/benefit related."
The decisions were made by members of the Diocese of Madison's Corporate Board acting as the finance council of the diocese.
"Reductions like these are never easy. People's lives and families are affected," said Keller. "We tried to focus on administrative areas where services to parishes won't be greatly impacted. Hopefully these changes will make our organization more efficient by making us work more closely together, help each other out more, and make us stronger as we go forward."
The remaining employees will experience reductions in their life, health, and retirement benefits as well.
The diocese is not immune to the difficult economic environment everyone is facing, said Keller. "We must realize our responsibility to be good stewards of the funds and assets given to us to manage."
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee addresses the State Legislature at the State Capitol in Madison. (Catholic Herald photo by Julianne Nornberg)
MADISON -- It was with resounding applause and standing ovations that Archbishop Timothy Dolan was received when he addressed the State Legislature as a guest speaker at the Capitol March 18.
With a powerful message emphasizing civility - something "we all agree that our society desperately needs" - Dolan brought together Republicans and Democrats alike on a common issue.
"Your welcome to me this morning proves that, while we all defend the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, we reaffirm as well the American heritage that religion and morality have a cherished place in the public square."
We also reaffirm that "religion, morality, and the churches have had a defining role to play in all the great dramas of our nation's history, from independence itself, to abolition, civil rights, respect for life, and, so timely this morning, to war and peace," said Dolan.
Stressing that civility is "the cement that keeps a respectful, trusting, productive society and community focused and fruitful," Dolan noted the three foundations of civility: self respect, respect for others, and a common sense conclusion that society "can only survive, prosper, and fulfill its purpose if it is well-ordered by virtue and responsibility."
He pointed out that "a civil person is deferential and sensitive to those in need, especially the weak, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the handicapped, the young, the defenseless."
A civil person is also hospitable, temperate, and honest, he said.
"Religious leaders and lawmakers have something in common with each other and with the people we serve," said Dolan. "We are all made of clay. Some days we are saints, some days sinners."
Civility also means gratitude, he noted.
"Gratitude is the insurance for civility in this era of entitlement, where we are told to watch out only for number one, where we are led to believe that we have everything coming to us, where we are tempted to ask what others can do for us instead of what we can do for them; that God, country, society, church owe us something but can expect nothing from us in return; where privacy, pleasure, and convenience seem the only inalienable rights," he said.
"Of all the things I could have spoken about to such a prominent group of leaders . . . and here I speak on something as simple as civility? You bet I do," said Dolan, who had to pause momentarily as legislators stood and applauded.
"I speak with much conviction, because if we lose this - and we're in danger of doing so - we'll lose our noble battles on all those other towering challenges. Sometimes we can't do much about all those other issues, but we can always do something about courtesy and civility. Sometimes more important than what we do is how we do it."
Legislators stood and applauded at the conclusion of Dolan's address. The archbishop was well received afterward, with many legislators standing in line to greet him and have their photos taken with him.
The reaction of the legislators indicated that Dolan's address was uplifting and set the right tone for those making difficult decisions, said John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.
"The archbishop forcefully affirmed values Catholics have that non-Catholics find encouraging, and he was sensitive to the fact that not everyone is Catholic. The legislators' response went beyond polite applause," he said.
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