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Archdiocese of Santa Fe issues layoffs

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Archbishop John C. Wester

It has been a tough year for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe with bankruptcy proceedings and the coronavirus pandemic, and the financial struggles are forcing layoffs and an end to its monthly magazine.

Archbishop John C. Wester said in a letter to parishioners on Monday that the archdiocese is cutting 20 positions from its Catholic Center and ending publication of its “People of God” magazine. Some of the affected employees have worked for the archdiocese for over 30 years, Wester said.

“It is impossible to put into words just how much we are going to miss our friends with whom we have ministered for so long,” Wester wrote in the letter. “… Their dedication, competence and love for the Church stand as a fitting tribute to their legacy. We wish them well in the future, and assure them of our never-ending gratitude and promise of prayer.”

One of those leaving is Celine Baca Radigan, who is retiring after 24 years as the archdiocese’s communications director and editor of “People of God,” which has been published for over 38 years.

“It captured the work of the Holy Spirit alive in this local Church and put a spotlight on the various cultures that make up our gifted community of believers,” Wester wrote. “It enabled us to share stories, and put a human face on Christ’s message of love, mercy and redemption.”

The Rev. Andy Pavlak, pastor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Albuquerque, said “People of God” was a great way to communicate with parishioners.

“It’s very sad to see it going, but the reality is, unfortunately, it’s almost a luxury in some ways,” Pavlak said. “As we have to deal with the realities of our limitations, that was a casualty of the reality.”

According to Wester’s letter, the layoffs include six positions in the Pastoral Ministries Division, five in the General Services Division and three each in the Office of the Vicar General and Office of the Chancellor. The cuts also include the radio host for Archbishop’s Hour, which aired at noon Monday through Friday on various radio stations throughout the state.

The Rev. Vincent Paul Chávez, pastor of St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church on Fourth NW, told the Journal that 10% of an individual parish’s Sunday collection income goes to the archdiocese for operational costs. With in-church attendance limited during the COVID-19 pandemic – and a current limit of 25% of capacity or no more than 75 people – Chávez said income has been hit hard.

“If the parishes’ incomes are suffering, then that automatic 10% that we send to the archdiocese also suffers,” Chávez said. “It’s a domino effect.”

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2018 as a result of child sexual abuse claims filed against it; about 300 of those claims have been settled.

Wester could not be reached for comment this week.

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