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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 2, 1994     The Message
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September 2, 1994
 

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana September 2, -- Taking the time to make a difference- Lessons learned from questions asked Marcia Lane teaches English as a Second Language in Golden, Colo. She does much, much more. Marcia is the first connection many foreign students make with the United States, its cultures and traditions. And they will ask her almost anything. There are predictable questions about how to transfer to another school and how to get a driver's li- cense -- and unpredictable ques- tions, too. A student may loudly re- peat a vulgar word and ask her what it means. Or surprise her with questions about guns in our society, about whether it is o.k. to drink water from a faucet, about personal hygiene, or about why Christians celebrate Easter. One of the biggest surprises in Marcia's career, however, was not a question asked by a foreign student. It was a sudden realization about her own family. Marcia grew up in northwestern Iowa, in Newell, a community where almost everyone came from Danish families. Everyone used to speak Danish. Marcia's mother had learned her Lutheran catechism in Danish. While Marcia was working on her master's de- gree, she suddenly came to realize that English had been the second language of her own mother J By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR Marcia had always known that -- she just had not fully compre- hended what it meant. Her own mother had faced many of the same problems and pressures her foreign students face today. Marcia never talked with her mother about making the transi- tion from Danish to English, or about why her parents had not taught the children to speak Dan- ish. Was her mother ashamed of her native language? Why did she give it up? The time has passed in her fam- ily, to ask such questions. She wishes she had thought to ask them sooner. Perhaps the unanswered family questions in Marcia's life make her more open to answering questions from her students. Whatever the reason, she is convinced of the blessings she has received by getting to know people from so many cultures and traditions. If only people would just look at each other on a one-to-one basis, she says, they would realize how much we all have in common. Then people would not be threatened but instead would feel enriched and rewarded. * * $ You are reading the first edition of a new col- umn, for and about people who take the time to make a difference in their homes, in their neighbor- hoods and in their communities. They are mothers and daughters, sons and brothers, neighbors and friends. Each column will begin with a story from ordi- nary life. Each column will end with an invitation -- to take a look at your own home or neighborhood, to make a decision about what you see, and then to take*some actions to make a difference. * * * What is the origin of your family? Your customs? Is there a dominant culture in your neighborhood or : within your church family? If there are children in your home, are they aware of your roots? How hard is it for others to enter into your family, for example, as a new brother-in-law or sister-in- law? How does your neighborhood treat new ar- rivals? Does your church welcome strangers? Take the time today to pay more attention to a person who speaks another language. Do something nice for the newest member of your family. Encour- age development or improvement of a welcoming committee at your church. Meet somebody interest- ing! Take the time to make a difference. Questions and comments are welcome at the Christian Family Movement, P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. ----- Washington 'Downsizing' -- When the church faces the need to cut labor By Patricia Zapor Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- There's no easy way to lose a job. Nor do most employers find it a simple matter to fire people -- let alone lay off workers who've done nothing to deserve it. Just as for IBM or the local contractor, when income falls or the market being served changes significantly, Catholic institutions sometimes look to personnel to cut expenses. Today, employers call it "downsizing  or "right-sizing." In more old-fashioned terms, it's a layoff. To workers being "right- sized" out of a job, the term mat- ters little. However, experts in personnel matters agree some ways of eliminating jobs are clearly better than others. "It's very important that an employer respect the dignity, value and worth of the individ- ual," said Thomas J. Meehan, human resources director for the U.S. Catholic Conference. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Editor ............................................ Pau Le/ngang Production Manager ........................... Phil Boger Circulation ................................... Amy Housman AdvertJsi,",g ................................... Paul Newland Stafff vmter ........................... Mary Ann Hughes Address all commumcations to P.O. Box 4 t 69, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication Copyrigt 1994 Calholic Press of Evar Thorough review of alterna- tives, checks and balances of outside evaluation, communi- cation with everyone affected and a compassionate approach to the circumstances under which people depart are essen- tial, he said. "Sometimes doing what is just means doing more than what the law demands," said Loretto Sister Ann White, ex- ecutive director of the National Association of Church Person- nel Administrators. Her orga- nization offers workshops on how to cut staff legally and justly and is in the process of producing a position paper that will touch on the subject. For more than 100 years, the Catholic Church has unequivo- cally urged employers to pay just wages and follow fair em- ployment policies. A series of papal encyclicals dating back to 1891's "Rerum Novarum" have emphasized workers' rights and the responsibility of employers to the common good. From the Vatican to small social agencies and parishes, the church itself generally is considered a stable and secure -- if not especially lucrative -- place to work. But in 1989 and 1990 half a dozen dioceses cut their work- forces to help make budget ends meet. Among the largest cutbacks, the Diocese of Tuc- son, Ariz., eliminated 13 of 54 positions in 1988. In 1989, the Diocese of Fresno, Calif., closed its newspaper and eliminated 17 jobs -- a third of the dioce- san staff. This summer, layoffs were announced by two USCC divi- sions, the Catholic Telecommu- nications Network of America and Migration and Refugee Services. CTNA announced plans in July to lay off two-thirds of its 18- member staff to avoid a projected $1 million deficit. MRS employees in Washing- ton, New York, Miami and sev- eral other cities received a memo Aug. 2 about a pending reorganization that is expected to result in layoffs. While a dozen CTNA em- ployees found themselves with- out jobs a month later, at least one newly unemployed execu- tive with the teldvision net- work said he thought the layoff was "the most compassionate I've heard of." "There are always going to be some ruffled feathers and un- happiness," said Frank Lattanzi, former vice president of market- ing for CTNA. "But I think CTNA handled it quite well. They've even welcomed us in to use computers and equipment for our job hunting." Sentiments were somewhat different at MRS, where uncer- tainty dragged down morale, as employees awaited final word on the reorganization. An an- nouncement of layoffs of up to 10 percent of the 120 or so employ- ees is expected Sept. 12. Sister White said the church should be following its own ad- vice on how to treat employees. "Ideally, the church would be better at it," she said. "Unfortu- nately there are things that have been done unjustly. There are many people who've suffered terribly in downsizing." Most dioceses have personnel directors trained to handle lay- offs as humanely as possible, Sister White said. But smaller organizations, like parishes, often lack someone with that ex- pertise. Outplacement services, of- fered by the USCC to laid-off CTNA employees, often seem too expensive for small employers, she said. Meehan figures the expense of laying off an employee to be 30- 50 percent of an annual salary, in- cluding extension of benefits, sev- erance pay and the cost of helping the worker find a new job. Compared to comparably sized private employers, Catholic institutions are proba- bly better at handling layoffs well, said Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, a researcher at George- town's Woodstock Theological Center who has written about the U.S. church operations. Among U.S. Catholic em- ployers, there's a wide variety of skill in how to approach per- sonnel matters, said Father Reese, "but I'd guess the church is as good or better than private employers at han- dling downsizing." However, many church em- ployees simply don't expect to have jobs disappear from under them the same way they might in the for-profit business world, he said. "the church in a lot of ways is like a family business," he said. "People come to work for the church because they that it's not a do ronment and people are nice each other. Then there's feeling that we're doing thing important for the dom of God. "But like the other side family business, it's very to fire Uncle Charlie, Charlie, or Msgr. Charlie," ther Reese said. After seven-and-a-half at the USCC, Meehan through a variety of zations and layoffs and haS! vised dioceses around country about how to similar situations. It doesn't get easier, he hdmitting a few could have been handled ently. "Primarily it comes communication," "At all times you need spect the dignity and the individual and cating every step of the Bishop's schedu The following activities and events are listed on the schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. Sept. 3,11 a.m. Labor Day, offices closed, Monday;Sept. 5. Bishop's diocesan staff meeting, Catholic ter, Thursday, Sept. 8, 10:15 a.m. Priests' Retirement Board, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2:30 p.m. Meeting with diocesan eatechetical St. John Church, Daylight, Friday, Sept. 10. 10 a.m. Confirmation in Vincennes, St. John Sunday, Sept 11, 2 p.m. Confirmation for parishes: Sacred Heart, Old Cathedral and John, "St. Meinrad Evening," dinner, at St. Meinrad Archabbey, Sunday, Sept. 11, 5 p.m.