In a surprise move, the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced Friday that its new chief operating officer, who was brought in to put into place a sweeping buyout plan affecting as many as 1,800 employees, is stepping down from his post.
The diocese said Charles Trunz III, who assumed his position last June, will be leaving on June 1, though he will continue to offer advice on a volunteer basis.
"Over the past year, Charles Trunz has improved business practices, created new financial disciplines and developed strategic plans benefiting the Diocese, its parishes and our church," Bishop William Murphy said in a letter sent to pastors and posted on the diocesan Web site. "Having accomplished these key goals, Mr. Trunz has indicated that he will not continue his employment with the Diocese after June 1st of this year."
Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said Trunz, a former high-level executive at JP Morgan, faced a variety of challenges and frustrations in implementing the buyout program and other plans to address the diocese's fiscal problems. About 100 of 133 parishes are expected to lose money this year.
"I think the scope of the challenges and the depth of the challenges are greater than maybe he originally believed," Dolan said. "It's no secret that this has been an extremely challenging environment for him."
Dolan also said church culture sometimes hampered the implementation of the plans. "To get your hands around the organization is complex," he said. "You really have to understand this culture and the church and its various facets. I think we encountered more resistance to certain things than we would have thought initially."
He said, for instance, that "not being able implement things as efficiently as you would in the corporate world has been a challenge to him."
On Thursday, diocesan officials denied rumors that Trunz was resigning. Phil Megna, of the Long Island chapter of Voice of the Faithful, a group critical of church hierarchy and the staff cuts, said he had been hearing the rumors for two weeks.
"If in fact his goal was to upset loyal employees of the parishes throughout the diocese, he succeeded," Megna said.