The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is trimming its staff and moving the remnant to a new location.
The moves were announced Monday by Bishop David Zubik as a response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The realignment of staff involves the elimination of 11 positions and the reduction of hours for two positions.
The reorganization plan also includes the transfer of diocesan operations from the Pastoral Center on the Boulevard of the Allies in downtown Pittsburgh to the Saint Paul Seminary campus, less than five miles away, on Noblestown Road, which is also within the City of Pittsburgh.
“As Catholics, we know from the Bible that God has a plan for each of our lives. Placing our trust in Him, especially through times of uncertainty and change invites us to feel the hope that comes with the reassurance of God’s ever-abiding presence with and for us,” Zubik said.
Diocese Chief Financial Officer David Misch shared actions that have been taken to significantly reduce costs including:
•Creating a project management team to assess the ongoing issues and identify cost-saving options
•Guiding parishes through cost-reduction strategies, and the processes required to support them through accessing potential government relief
•Creating an ad hoc committee to address financial issues related to schools
•Reviewing government programs to determine the potential for emergency aid and obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for the diocese which provided temporary funding to keep people employed
•Establishing the Bishop’s Coronavirus Emergency Fund to provide an extra layer of financial support to employees of parishes Catholic schools, and staffing by ensuring the continuing of health care coverages and other benefits.
Central administration departments and positions were evaluated with the priority of continuing the work of the church efficiently and effectively with the limited available resources. All staff changes will become effective Aug. 1.
The move to Saint Paul Seminary will be done as a gradual transfer of all departments over the next six months, with the process intended to be completed by Dec. 31.
The diocese determined that the seminary campus is the only diocesan property that will accommodate all employees and allow operations in one place to support the ongoing needs of parishes and schools in the diocese.
The diocese had begun a process of reorganizing before the coronavirus pandemic. A long-term decline in Mass attendance and donations has been exacerbated by the ripple effect of COVID-19. Decreased donations to parishes directly impacts Parish Share giving, which is the primary source of funding for the diocesan budget.
On March 13, diocesan church buildings were closed, and Masses suspended in partnership with community efforts to curb the spread of the virus. On March 26, and in subsequent communications, the diocese informed clergy, parishioners, and the community that cost-cutting methods, including layoffs at the parish and diocesan level would be needed.
The diocese will continue to monitor and evaluate operational needs on an ongoing basis to the fluid nature of the situation. Other measures may be required to reduce and manage costs, and build financial stability moving forward.
“Bishops across the United States are dealing with these same issues, but that doesn’t make this any easier,” Zubik said. “Nobody is exempt from the fallout of this virus. All of our lives have been dramatically changed.
“By trusting in God, we can believe that transitions like these will help us to become more like Jesus in how we respond to the challenges we face. We know that we are promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him.”