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CURRENT ISSUE:  February 6, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 3Oakland, CA

Diocese cuts positions in Chancery
to achieve a balanced budget

In a move to close a $1.2 million gap in its operating budget, the Diocese of Oakland has eliminated 17 full- and part-time positions in pastoral ministries and support services in its central services division, effective Jan. 31.

Father George Mockel, vicar general, said the workforce reduction came after the Diocesan Finance Council and other consultative bodies recommended to Bishop Allen Vigneron that a balanced budget for 2006 was necessary to ensure the ongoing financial health of the diocese.

The deficit is the result of a widening gap between income and expenses over the past several years as well as last year’s $25 million settlement of lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sex abuse in the diocese, Father Mockel said. The diocese has financed the settlement with a loan, which it hopes can be retired over the next few years through the sale of diocesan property not currently in use.

As part of the budget adjustment, some long-time employees accepted an early-retirement package and some vacant positions will not be filled. Some departments will increase fees for services provided.

Among the programs affected by the layoffs are liturgy, small Christian communities, youth and young adults, family life, and special religious education. In most cases, the programs will continue, but with fewer staff.

Father Mockel said the directors of Chancery departments helped develop criteria and reorganization scenarios to guide the process that resulted in recommendations from the Bishop’s Administrative Council to Bishop Vigneron. Positions deemed essential to the mission and ministry of the bishop, parishes, and the diocese as a whole were retained.

The diocesan School Department, Catholic cemeteries, Catholic Charities, the Cathedral project and The Catholic Voice were not affected by the reductions because their funding comes from sources outside the Central Services budget.

Father Mockel said the annual Bishop’s Appeal is particularly important this year to ensure funding for diocesan programs and services that remain. Without the Appeal, even more program cuts would have been necessary.

The Appeal, set for Feb. 12, has a goal of $2.1 million to support schools and parishes in need, lay leadership training, care for retired priests, youth and family ministries, spiritual ministries, and other diocesan services such as the Marriage Tribunal.

Funds raised from the Appeal are restricted to designated programs and are not used to offset sexual abuse lawsuits or to build the new Cathedral of Christ the Light, Father Mockel said.

 


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