Catholic Charities Cuts Jobs, Budget

By Kathryn Marchocki
Union Leader [New Hampshire]
Downloaded April 11, 2003

Eight New Hampshire Catholic Charities employees lost their jobs this week and seven others had their hours reduced in an effort to trim $500,000 from the agency's budget.

A decline in returns on investments and the annual fundraising appeal falling about $200,000 short of its goal made the cuts necessary, Sister Patricia A. Sullivan, diocesan director of New Hampshire Catholic Charities, said yesterday.

The private, non-profit social service agency set a $3.3 million goal for its 2002 fund drive, which ended Jan. 31. It raised $3,140,000, Sullivan said.

"When you put that against what other non-profits have done with the weak economy, the fall in our investments . . . and the church crisis, I think we did really very well," she said.

The cuts affect only the social service arm of Catholic Charities, which has about 80 full- and part-time employees and last year provided services to about 40,000 people statewide, regardless of faith, she said.

It will enable the agency to reduce its annual operating budget to nearly $6 million for the fiscal year that began April 1, she said.

"We didn't eliminate any of the programs and services. We will just reassign some of the responsibilities to the employees who have been retained," Sullivan said.

The cutbacks were made known Wednesday when Sullivan met with each of the 15 employees. Each will receive severance packages and will be paid through today.

Those who lost their jobs include the associate director of outreach ministry, two part-time counselors, a data processor and an administrative assistant, she said.

The director of persons with disabilities' position was eliminated, but the priest who holds it has been reassigned to parish work, she said.

While seven employees had their hours cut, they still will receive benefits, she said.

Besides its social service arm, Catholic Charities owns six nursing homes in the state and manages two others. It employs about 720 people to run them.

The agency lost about $300,000 in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements last fall and expects at least that much in further cuts this year, Sullivan said.

It is considering various cost-containment measures to cope with them, including increasing private payments, Sullivan said.

In addition, Catholic Charities last year allocated $912,000 to run two homes for retired diocesan priests: Delaney House and Bishop Peterson Residence, both in Manchester.

The agency plans to close Delaney House, where just two priests live, she said. The priests will be able to move to Bishop Peterson, an assisted-care residence where about 15 priests live, she said.

Priests living at Bishop Peterson who need skilled nursing care will be moved to nursing homes.

Sullivan said the changes are expected to produce "several thousand" dollars in savings.

Dennis Daigle, associate director of outreach ministry, whose position was eliminated, joined Catholic Charities 38 years ago as a counselor. During that time, he has been involved in many of its ministries, including support groups for separated and divorced people and children grieving the loss of a parent.

"I just relished giving people that opportunity to deal as effectively as possible with their own struggles," said Daigle, a father of two.


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