Changes in lay pension plan were necessary

| December 2, 2010
Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

Last Thursday, as you know well, our nation celebrated its annual feast of giving thanks for all the blessings we have received. It is the closest we come to a secular holy day — that is, a holiday not associated with a religious feast.

While I reviewed with gratitude the countless blessings I have received in my life, I was, at the same time, conscious of the challenges I have been given as well.

Earlier this week, I announced a decision to freeze our defined benefit pension plan for our archdiocesan employees on Jan. 31, 2011, and, at that time, to enhance their defined contribution plan (called a 403(b) plan), which is funded by their employer.

This decision was based on a recommendation of the Lay Pension Task Force as well as the Archdiocesan Finance Committee. The reason behind it was to protect the accrued benefits in the defined benefit plan that had been, among other things, severely affected by the downturn in the stock market these past years.

Surely this is a challenge as it involves a change in overseeing the investing of the 403(b) plan. At the same time, I believe the bottom line will prove to be a blessing. I say this because:

1. We have preserved all the retirement benefits our employees have earned to date;

2. We have put into place an enhanced 403(b) pension plan that is employer sponsored;

3. And, in going forward, present salaries are maintained and benefits are provided.

In talking with other bishops and reading reports about other non-profits dealing with this same problem, I wasn’t completely surprised that our pension program would be affected.

But still and all, it is a different situation when the news is announced.

But, again, the good news for our employees is that:

1. They will receive all the retirement benefits that they have earned to date;

2. They will be enrolled in an enhanced 403(b) pension plan that is sponsored by their employer;

3. That going forward, their salaries are maintained and their benefits are provided.

More information is available on our archdiocesan website or at our Archdiocesan Pension Hotline (651) 291-4503.

As a church, we are committed to justice. At the same time, we have to make decisions that will assist us in meeting present responsibilities without compromising future economic security.

I see the present decision as a way of affirming our responsibility to provide for competitive salaries and benefits in a sustainable way over the long term.

Working for the church should not be like working for a non-profit business organization.

Working for the church should be like working with family; we all pitch in to do what needs to be done.

This present change gives me the opportunity to express my deep gratitude to our employees for their dedication and their personal commitment to the work they do.

The mission of the church, which is the mission of Christ, is greatly enhanced by what they do day in and day out.

I applaud their service and assure them of the support of our Catholic faithful.

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Category: Only Jesus

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