April 30, 2020

Dear lay employees of the Diocese of Oakland,

I know all of you are dealing with very painful situations. Collectively, in these last days of April, we have lost approximately 300 positions in our parishes and another 300 positions in our Catholic schools.

I have also taken difficult actions here at the Chancery to cut costs and services consistent with the parishes’ and schools’ experience. While the Diocese is in no position to assist parishes financially because of our own lack of reserves, I am in solidarity with our parishes’ and school’s financial difficulties and response to them.

Effective May 1 through the end of 2020, I am eliminating the parish assessment of The Catholic Voice. Many pastors have expressed concern about the Catholic Voice assessment and the strain it placed on parish budgets. The costs of the newspaper are being absorbed in the Chancery budget cuts and other cost-savings measurements.

In addition, I and members of my Chancery leadership team:

  • Reduced staff by a total 28. Most of these individuals were laid off while a few were furloughed. All job actions take effect this Friday, May 1.
  • Asked all remaining exempt employees to take a 10% pay cut for the remainder of the year. Pay cuts are effective May 1. Members of my leadership voluntarily took cuts beyond my 10% request.
  • Implemented a hiring freeze. Until further notice, all hiring regardless of level must have my approval.

It was difficult to let go of so many of our colleagues. However, this action was necessary to reduce our 2020 personnel budget by 35% overall for fiscal year 2020. The total personnel changes represent a 50% reduction in such costs for the remainder of 2020. These reductions have impacted every department in the Chancery.

We know reducing our staff will reduce our capacity to serve our parishes. It may result in some services being eliminated altogether. For example, we are eliminating two major gatherings this year, the Eucharistic Congress and the Catechetical Congress. Our youth ministry (including Boy Scouts and sports) and RCIA programming have been suspended until further notice.

With the assurance of my blessing and continued prayers for you and your loved ones, I remain 

Yours sincerely in Christ, 

The Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, SJ

Bishop of Oakland

Full story at Diocese of Oakland.