Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New structure, new way of ministering for archdiocese

Brian T. Olszewski and Maryangela Layman Roman reported in the April 10, 2008 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald on the results of the latest round of Archdiocesan planning.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Planning web page has a link "Click here for the latest information on Vision: 21st Century Planning" that takes you to the Vision: 21st Century Planning page. I've waited to see what would be posted here. Maybe the reorg needed to put more resources into the website. Or maybe the reorg changed from Vision to 21st Century Downsizing. Father James Connell, Vicar of Planning,
said he's heard repeatedly from people that "they want to be involved in the ministry of the church."

Archdiocesan leaders found no troubling ambiguity in that sentiment, and as for those people,
They will have plenty of opportunities as a result of a restructuring in central administration...

Opportunities with a vengeance. Here's the new Organization Chart.
During a staff gathering, they [Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Bishop William P. Callahan, Fr. Connell, John Marek, archdiocesan chief financial officer, and Rick Tank, archdiocesan director of human resources] outlined a structure that will rely heavily on "people in the pews" volunteering to serve on ministry-specific archdiocesan commissions.

Well-suited to that bygone era of overflowing churches.
The plan was announced in the context of a $3 million budget deficit that had been projected for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Leading to the elimination of 37 positions, and creation of 15 new ones, see Staffing Reductions for 2008-2009.
Interviewed by your Catholic Herald after the announcement, Bishop Callahan, Fr. Connell, Marek, and Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Dolan, and Kathleen Hohl, director of communications, outlined how the new structure might function.

Even each new structure by Rube Goldberg might function.
The [ministerial] commissions will work with archdiocesan district deans, coordinators and associates - a newly-established position in the archdiocesan structure. ...

A posting on the archdiocesan Web site describes associates and their roles: "These highly-skilled individuals will associate themselves with Bishop Callahan and the district deans to assist in monitoring pastoral work, locating resources, animating ministerial programs, fostering collaboration, facilitating action, monitoring implementation, and assessing results to ensure accountability."

These associate positions replace the parish consultant positions.
Noting how the new position differs from that of parish consultant, which served as a liaison between the parishes and central office services, Fr. Connell said, "The associate is going to be involved in monitoring those plannings (of the commissions), involved in the accountability - an enlargement of their roles to make things happen."

Presumably judged by measurable objective published results.
"To say we're cutting back, that is not true," Bishop Callahan said.

We're growing, only it's negative growth.

Fr. Connell remarked,
"I am very conscious of the highly-skilled level of people we have in the parishes. Every pastor or parish director is schooled in theology," he said. "Parish staffs are significantly more versed in ministry and competency than they were just a few years ago or many years ago."

Interesting planning assumption. If true, it would seem to follow that it is impossible for the problems we have to exist.
Even though he looked at what other dioceses that had undertaken restructuring had done, Fr. Connell said the Archdiocese of Milwaukee needed to develop its own model.

Makes a kind of sense, if every other diocese got even worse results from planning than our Archdiocese has.
As people become familiar with the model, he is confident that they will become part of it.

"If there is a pastoral need, and people see it, they will respond," Fr. Connell said.

What if they've responded in the past but the experience ultimately convinced them it was wasted effort?
While Topczewski [Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Dolan] said there is "no limit to the number of commissions that can exist,"

Not even limited to as numerous as the stars of heaven...
the priest noted that in order to be effective the commissions have to link to Archbishop Dolan's six pastoral priorities...

Perhaps each priority, in theory, being served by one-sixth of up to an infinite number of commissions. In practice,
Bishop Callahan, who will approve establishment of commissions, said that the work they undertake must be "in line with the mission and ministry of the church."

Someday they might want to look at whether proliferation of committees can be inherently problematic.
"This is not about proliferation of things that are personal ideas or favorites, little issues that are going to pop up here and there," the bishop said.

Analogous to a parish Liturgy team not being about "personal ideas or favorites".
Reiterating what had been said earlier - that the restructuring decisions were not "money driven"...

Rather they are lack-of-money-driven.
... "The Holy Spirit is creative, and we've put together a very creative kind of way of looking at things. ..."

That God created lemons doesn't explain every sour taste in our mouths.

Bill Glauber reported in the April 12, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Archdiocese trims 37 jobs to cut deficit. In Archbishop Dolan's letter announcing the reorganization of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's central office staff,
He did not sidestep the cause of the budget problems facing the archdiocese.

"We are frustrated that money is tight and we have to make these cuts," he said. "This is heightened because we know it is caused largely by the financial impact from the actions of those priests who sexually abused minors."

I foresee a problem with reticence about saying bishops needed to do more then while saying the laity needs to do more now.

P.S. If you were confused by the acronyms on the Organization Chart, above, consult the Organization of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Central Offices April 7, 2008.
The active role of the Archdiocesan Council of Priests (ACP), the Archdiocesan Council of Deacons (ACD), and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC), will continue to address the pastoral work of the archdiocese. Indeed, the APC, the ACP and the ADC will join the soon-to-be-formed Archdiocesan Lay Ecclesial Ministers Council (ALEMC) and the archdiocesan staff “Associates” to assist the dean of each district to plan, implement and evaluate pastoral priorities and initiatives on district, cluster and parish levels.


  1. "This is heightened because we know it is caused largely by the financial impact from the actions of those priests who sexually abused minors."

    Of course, that was BEFORE "accountability" here.

  2. Aquinas5:15 PM

    Sweet Mother of God. What happened to "teach, govern, and sanctify"? I'll tell you what: Those things are difficult, because they involve faith, grit, and a jaw-clenching determination to serve and spread a principled Catholic ethos. In some cases, that might be wildly countercultural. Shockingly so. Imagine: a pastor whose care of souls is so focused that he creates a climate in his parish where Mass is celebrated with dignity and reverence, prayer is encouraged, strong orthodox catechesis is not an option, and fasting, alms and charitable works are part of the year-round landscape of the place.

    That kind of work doesn't leave much work for committees, "listening" sessions, and "visioning." It does, however, demand leadership. The kind of leadership (now that one stops to think about it) that is almost nonexistent among the clergy (at least the older clergy) of this archdiocese.

    We're so busy "imagining," discussing, implementing, discerning, structuring, and engaging in dialogue that we've failed to notice that the Gospel has already provided a pretty decent blueprint for action (and that nowhere in the Gospel is the word "committee" held up as a model for successful evangelizing).

    This breathless flurry of activity masks (successfully) an aching lack: by looking busy, acting busy—relentlessly busy—we don't have time to stop and think about the fact that our lack of faith (Faith) has left us clueless.

    Our Catholic grandparents (you know—the ones who did things like build the St. Josephat's Basilica even though they were poor) would be astonished. And, very likely, disgusted.