Diocese of Rockville Centre Slices Staff Numbers

One of Long Island’s largest employers will offer voluntary buyouts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Bishop William F. Murphy answers a question during a news conference following the opening of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops fall meeting, Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, Baltimore.

    The Diocese of Rockville Centre, one of Long Island’s largest employers, plans to offer voluntary buyouts to 25 percent of its 6,000 employees. 

    Offers will begin next month. 

    Approximately 1,500 full and part-time administrators, education directors, outreach workers, maintenance workers and non-unionized elementary school teachers will have 45 days to decide whether they will accept.

    Bishop William Murphy said in a letter last week that nearly half of the 133 Roman Catholic parishes operate at a deficit -- despite steady donations. He said that's partly because requests for the diocese's services have increased.

    The diocese has no plans to close or consolidate schools or parishes. 

    Ex-Wall Street executive Charles Trunz III, who was recently employed in the newly created role of chief operating officer,  told Newsday that the plan will generate new surpluses “to keep those parishes and schools open.”

    The buyout offers, from which Catholic Charities and Catholic hospitals are exempt, will be followed by the institution of employee evaluations, according to the paper.

    Trunz faced about 200 religious education directors in a meeting on Monday.  An anonymous source told Newsday that people were gloomy following the discussions.  Many were left with questions and fears that failure to take the buyout may backfire if they later receive an inadequate evaluation, or of the diocese deems their job unnecessary.

    Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan told Newsday that even though the buyouts are likely to significantly reduce the workforce, increased efficiency will ensure that services for parishioners are delivered at the same level.

    Trunz says that the separation offer "was very, very compassionate because people have dedicated their life to the church."