"I cannot do or say anything which makes this decision any easier, and you know that layoffs were the very last option I would have chosen," the bishop said in his letter.
He continued: "Let us keep one another in our prayers and be a support to one another as we work through this. Let us especially pray for those whose positions we will need to cut. Let us pray for the families of all of our co-workers and for all those who suffer in these times."
The Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC), located off Park Street on Madison's south side, has provided meals, religious services, adult education, and employment assistance for those in need since it opened its doors in December, 2002. Some services at the Catholic Multicultural Center were ended May 27. The meal program was expected to end by the end of the week.
As the diocese continues to evaluate the programs and ministries provided by the CMC, it will work to do all that it can to continue to serve people of one of the city's poorer neighborhoods, the diocese said in a press release.
After a downturn in investment income in the past fiscal year, all diocesan employees agreed to a total salary freeze and several positions were eliminated. All employees will now have to pay more for the benefits they currently receive, and some staff members may be asked to take pay reductions.
Every department in the diocese will be affected by these cuts, said William Yallaly, associate director of communications for the diocese. But hopefully these changes will not greatly affect most Catholics around the diocese.
"Thankfully, we have so many great parish staffs at the parishes," Yallaly said. "For the most part, the work they do will make sure the people 'in the pews' don't notice a difference. It's the parish staff members who will see a difference in the support" from the diocesan offices.
Beginning this year, the diocese is conducting an Annual Catholic Appeal, which mirrors more fully the fundraising approach of the majority of Catholic dioceses around the country. And while the diocese says that many Catholics have been generous in their support, the economic strain is still expected to have an effect on the Appeal's final outcome.
Whether a positive outcome in the Appeal will lead to the reopening of the Catholic Multicultural Center or the resuming of its services is unknown, however.
"We're going to do everything we can in the future to evaluate, once we can regain our footing financially," Yallaly said.
But whatever the outcome, the diocese, whose offices provide support services for all Catholic parishes, schools, and outreach agencies in the 11 counties of south-central Wisconsin, says that it will continue its mission.
"Present here, in the world, our Church is made up of people, and so it should come as no surprise that as our people are forced to tighten their belts, the Church would do the same. We pray that the spiritual and material sustenance which the Church has always provided will continue to be undiminished by this crisis," said Monsignor Daniel Ganshert, vicar general, "and we will continue to invite people, each day, to meet the person of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, face-to-face, and to be changed by Him."