Layoffs in Boston chancery

Layoffs in Boston chancery

Cardinal Sean O’Malley had promised 50 layoffs and that’s what we got today. When he was announcing the Archdiocese of Boston’s multimillion dollar deficit and efforts at financial transparency, one of the remedies mentioned was layoffs of a certain number of chancery staff. As I alluded to yesterday, that’s now happened. In fact, only about half of the people actually got pink slips. The other 25 are either priests who will be reassigned to parishes, religious who will be reassigned by their orders, people transferred to open parish jobs or other Church-run institutions, and by not filling open positions. This brings overall chancery staff reductions to 30 percent since 2002.

The layoffs are accompanied by some mergers of offices, although we don’t know exactly which ones yet. In fact, the announcement is very skimpy on details. Hopefully, I will get some more information soon from those who have the details.

Meanwhile, the archdiocese is also completing the sale of the archdiocesan tribunal building on the grounds of the chancery to Boston College. Already the tribunal has transferred to space at St. Theresa of Avila in West Roxbury (after an ill-advised attempt to move into the hotly contested Our Lady of the Presentation School in Brighton; not a good PR move).

Moving priests into parishes

I’ve long been an advocate of moving priests out of the chancery and into parishes. As the number of priests declines in the short term, we need priests in the trenches doing pastoral ministry. The Church needs to hire professional lay people (and by that I don’t mean the typical VOTF-types who often seem to populate Church jobs; but people with real-world business experience) and use their skills. Priests don’t go through seminary and become ordained in order to become paper-pushers and clerks (although it’s often what happens to pastors), so let’s give them the chance to do what the became priests to do.

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  • “The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.”

    The Holy Father recently – speaking to priests in Poland.

    I have often wondered how priests who spend most – if not all – of their lives in ‘bureaucratic’ positions see themselves (think how many there are at the Vatican…!). Yes, I know they ‘supply’ in parishes on weekends but that basically is ‘part-time work’.

    If you are ordained for one thing and find that most of your life is spent doing something else, that has got to be difficult to reconcile – except in terms of obedience, of course.

    The comment from Deacon John’s pastor is apropos. Pastors deal with many things such as the plumbing, the boiler, the roof etc. And no, they don’t give courses in home fix-up in the seminary.

    I think that was one of the reasons behind parish councils and committees – to free up the pastor from much of the mundane ‘secular’ work involved in administering a parish. I’m not sure how well that has worked out – probably with varying success in different locations.

    I still recall a pastor I knew years ago – in an expanding parish which needed a new church – saying sadly: “I’m not a builder priest”. And he wasn’t. But he was a very spiritual priest who did much good work.

    We do need a way to free up all priests to perform the office for which they were ordained and have the ‘other stuff’ done by competent laypeople.

  • I’m still waiting for a list. I know that Fr. Tom Dunne, head of the Youth Ministry office is leaving and being reassigned by his order (Salesians), two other full-timers and three part-timers were let go and only two remain.

    And the Youth Ministry office is being folded into the Family Life Office. A big change from six years ago when Cardinal Law declared youth ministry a major priority of the archdiocese.

  • In the Globe article today(6/20) by Michael Paulson on the “Layoffs completed in Boston Archdiocese”, the last paragraph has Jack Dunn,spokesman for Boston College, saying that the Tribunal building will be used by B.C. to house a newly named Institute on Aging in the 21st Century. Let us hope and pray that Charles Baron will not be allowed to have anything to do in this Institute. Charles Baron is a professor of law at Boston College law School. He is on the Board of Directors of End-of-Life Choices Greater Boston, which used to be the Hemlock Society. His speciality is advocating for assisted suicide. A look at his publications ( will give the reader a look at all of the publications he has written and and testimony that Charles Baron has given in favor of euthanasia,assisted dying and assisted suicide.
    If he gets his insideous claws into the Institute on Aging in the 21st Century, God help us all!!

  • Many priests who work in parishes aren’t really specialists in the spiritual life either, but rather “builders,” as someone above so aptly put it.  Still, they at least do have contact with people receiving the normal sacraments from them—baptism and marriage and so on.

  • Major reorganization in the archdiocese of Boston is long overdue and very necessary. I never understood why OYM, OYA and Family Life were not under the umbrella os the Office for Spiritual Devlopment.