Archdiocesan chief financial officer announces plans to retire

| March 6, 2012 | 0 Comments


The search is beginning for a new chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

John Bierbaum, who has served in that post for the past seven years, announced March 5 that he will retire June 30.

Bierbaum, who turns 68 in August, came to work for the archdiocese after a lengthy career as a senior executive with several businesses that are part of The Pohlad Companies.

He told The Catholic Spirit that while his first arrangement with the archdiocese was to be for five years, he continued working for the church in the 12 counties in the Twin Cities and surrounding area because “I thought I was needed and was accomplishing something.”

He added, “I’ve been thinking about this for some time. The formal arrangement for my employment expired last year, and this seemed like a good time [to retire].”

According to a statement from the archdiocese, Bierbaum will continue as a consultant to the archdiocese as needed to assist with the transition of a successor.

Difficult time to be CFO

His tenure with the archdiocese coincided with tough economic times for the country and for the church, as well. Asked about the largest challenges he faced due to the economic downturn, he pointed to two major factors.

“I’d say the impact of the economy on the pension plan [for employees of the archdiocese, its parishes and its schools],” he said. “I regret not being able to come up with a better solution.”

Pensions were frozen and annual contributions to a retirement plan were put in place as a substitute.

“And the other relates to limited ability to help parishes with their problems,” he said.

Better planning begun

Archbishop John Nienstedt praised Bierbaum’s contribution to the archdiocese.

“The fiscal health of the archdiocese today is largely a result of John’s financial acumen,” the archbishop’s statement noted. “I have greatly appreciated and respected John’s counsel throughout his years here at the archdiocese.”

The archdiocesan statement said that under Bierbaum’s leadership the archdiocese enhanced the transparency of its own financial affairs and increased financial automation, accountability and innovation in its parishes and schools.

Bierbaum was instrumental in the archdiocesan strategic planning process for both its parishes in 2009 and its schools in 2011, the statement said.

“We have planned well and made great strides with the implementation of those plans,” Bierbaum said. “It is time for new energy and focus to bring that work to completion over the next few years. I look forward to working with the archbishop on his priorities in the days ahead, but I also look forward to a slower pace and more time on the farm.”

Bierbaum owns a family dairy farm and has been gradually making time over the last few years for his personal interests.

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