Chicago archdiocese eliminates 75 positions, eyes closing five schools
by TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org February 27, 2013 1:08PM
The Archdiocese of Chicago is planning on eliminating 75 positions at two Archdiocese pastoral centers, Archbishop Quigley Pastoral Center at 835 N. Rush, pictured here, and the Cardinal Meyer Pastoral Center at 3525 S. Lake Park Ave. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times
Updated: April 1, 2013 11:47AM
The Archdiocese of Chicago is eliminating 75 positions — a 14 percent administrative cut — while closing five schools and cutting back on loans and grants to parishes in what Cardinal Francis George is calling a “necessary but difficult” financial review.
The shake-up was detailed Wednesday in an online column for parishioners, as the cardinal spent time in Rome as part of the conclave that will choose the next pope.
“Like so many other families and institutions, the Archdiocese of Chicago has suffered during the economic downturn of these past few years,” George said.
Part of cost-cutting efforts include scaling back on capital loans and grants to parishes and laying out stricter guidelines needed to qualify for aid. The cutbacks will lead to $13 to $15 million in annual savings by 2015.
George said needy parishes and schools received $44 million in aid for the fiscal year ending last June.
“While providing aid to needy parishes and schools is basic to our shared Archdiocesan mission, we obviously cannot sustain funding at these levels,” George said.
Administrative layoffs at both pastoral centers — Archbishop Quigley on the Near North Side and Cardinal Meyer on the South Side — will save between $11 and $13 million in 2015. The centers will lose 75 positions, 55 of which are full-time. Fifteen of those had not been filled.
Administrative operations have run operating deficits of more than $30 million for the past four years. For the fiscal year ending last June, the pastoral centers had a $40 million cash operating deficit for the year. George called the trend “unsustainable.”
“Reductions in some services and in staffing will, of course, be particularly difficult for the persons and parishes directly affected by them,” George said. “These actions are being taken now because the financial situation imposes them.”
On Wednesday afternoon, administrators at Quigley met with those who were being laid off.
“No one is exempt, not even our institution,” a priest leaving Quigley said.
The closing of five schools, and a $10 million cutback of aid to schools will save the archdiocese up to $20 million over the next several years.
“We hope to return to a sustainable level of aid for those schools that will always be facing financial difficulties,” George said.
The schools set to close have known for months. They include St. Gregory the Great High School in Andersonville; St. Bernardine Elementary School in Forest Park; St. Kieran Elementary School in Chicago Heights; St. Helena of the Cross Elementary School on the South Side and St. Paul-Our Lady of Vilna Elementary School on the Near West Side.