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About 500 take Rockville Centre Diocese buyout

The Diocese of Rockville Centre said Tuesday that roughly 500 of 1,800 affected employees have accepted a buyout package that was offered to address financial problems in the diocese.

The deadline for accepting was Monday, but there will be a delay of several days while letters make their way through the mail and officials have a definitive final count, said diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan.

He could not immediately say what impact, if any, the numbers would have on possible job reductions. Previously he said the diocese expected fewer than half the employees to accept the package.

"There are no plans for layoffs. That said, the parishes and pastoral center need to have a balanced budget and that may require, in certain instances, staffing level reductions," Dolan said. "Again, the decision on staffing levels in parish is made by the pastor."

He added that "some positions may be eliminated, some job functions may be consolidated, some parishes may collaborate. One solution does not fit all scenarios."

Officials say they are implementing the plan to address a fiscal crisis in the Church - 100 of 133 parishes are expected to lose money this year.

But the surprise announcement of the plan in late January unsettled employees, many of whom considered their work not just a job but a ministry.

"I'm sad, but I'm at peace," said Joan McGay, head of the outreach program at St. Joseph the Worker parish in East Patchogue. The church work "is what we are supposed to be doing. This is the lived gospel."

She said she had not planned to retire yet, but decided to take the package because she probably would have retired in a couple of years anyway.

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