In response to a critical cash-flow situation, the Archdiocese of Detroit has announced a major financial restructuring of its central operations that involves its programs, properties and positions. In the words of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, "The financial realities of our current circumstances are sobering; the resulting changes for the administrative structure of the archdiocese are significant."
At a presentation on Thursday, September 3, the archbishop announced he has accepted the recommendations of a six-month-long study that includes the reduction of positions from 264 to 187 this fall, the sale of buildings and relocation of administrative support offices, and a shift to regional delivery of programs, services and ministries to the parishes.
The recommendations are designed to make the archdiocese "cash neutral" going forward. In Fiscal Year 2008-09, the archdiocese lost $14.5 million in cash. Presently, the archdiocese loses $1.2 million in cash a month, or approximately $42,000 a day. Absent any action, these trends will only worsen and the archdiocese will exhaust its cash by 2011.
New job descriptions will be created for the 187 remaining positions in the archdiocese. In the coming weeks, all current, on-site staff who indicate an interest in a position will be considered. Final selections and employee transitions will be complete by mid-November. During this time period, efforts will be underway to assist employees, providing job placement workshops and including incentives for those eligible for retirement. A new organizational chart should be fully operational by the first of the year.
Regarding staff members of the Archdiocese's Central Services, Archbishop Vigneron offered his thanks: "Central Service employees have been and remain a dedicated, devoted work force supporting my ministry, the parishes and the presence of the Church in the archdiocese. They have my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation," he said.
The recommendations call for the sale of the Gabriel Richard Building in downtown Detroit, with relocation of staff to a smaller, more cost-efficient property within the city, possibly on the campus of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Options will be explored to sell the archdiocesan Print Shop building at Sixth Street and Bagley and move that operation to the Seminary as well.
The six counties of the archdiocese will be reorganized into four regions, each one overseen by an auxiliary bishop and supported by central staff in the areas of Catholic schools; evangelization; youth, young adult and campus ministry; and vocations.
In the spring of 2009, Archbishop Vigneron commissioned two separate committees, comprised of lay people and clergy, to assess the financial well-being of the archdiocese. During the first week of September, with financial recommendations in hand, the archbishop consulted with the Archdiocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors, the priest council of advisors on administrative and financial issues. After prayer and reflection, the archbishop accepted the recommendations: "I believe the committee members have crafted a response that is true to and advances the mission I asked them to consider in their deliberations – To share Christ in and through the Church."