Managing the Archdiocese

A Human Approach and Wise Leadership

When he became archbishop of Montreal, Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte - auxiliary bishop of Montreal at the time - accepted not only the position's inherent pastoral responsibilities, but also those of managing the archdiocese at a time when it was greatly suffering the financial impact of the decrease in church attendance.

Numerous Challenges


Although the archdiocese is an employer the size of a large business with approximately one thousand employees, it has a budget comparable to that of an SME*. It owns a substantial real-estate portfolio with buildings that are among the island's oldest, a collective inheritance that comes with a lot of responsibilities and that is, above all, difficult and expensive to maintain.

Cardinal Turcotte was already familiar with the administrative system of the archdiocese. Named bursar in 1977, he maintained his reputation as a born manager who is good with numbers by rectifying the organization's financial situation. His reputation followed him all the way to Rome, where, as cardinal, he was appointed to the Vatican's finance committee.

In 1990, he became the ecclesiastical "grand patron" [big boss] of Montreal. As archbishop, he wisely allowed himself to be guided by the philosophy of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movements: see, judge, act. He revised the episcopal structure and operating methods of the archdiocese to focus efforts on essential services and basic needs. He merged more than 90 parishes in 20 years and gave the advertising campaigns of the Annual Collection his imprimatur.

The cardinal strove to allocate human resources according to individual preferences and abilities "because," he said, "we work better when we are happy". He takes great pride in never having laid anyone off, despite the decrease in church attendance. The reduction in staff has been achieved solely by attrition.

Knowing One's Limitations in Order to Address Them Better

In the field of management, Cardinal Turcotte favours two principles: teamwork and seeking advice from those who know what he does not.

Responsible for coordinating the visit of Pope Jean-Paul II in 1984, he put this approach into practice. People known for their abilities in the fields of management, organized labour, and entertainment responded to his appeal with enthusiasm and generosity.

The man whom the magazine Entreprendre nicknamed "L'aumônier des bâtisseurs2" [the builders' chaplain] has developed strong ties with business people, creating relationships that are based on respect and prominence. His discourse with them has been pragmatic and non-complacent, supported by a calm and sincere approach. His messages remain unwavering: job creation for young people, social action, fair distribution of wealth, cooperation, and solidarity.  

1.  TREMBLAY, Nicolas. "L'aumônier des bâtisseurs," Entreprendre, March-April 2000, p. 6-8.
2.  KN. "Faire de l'argent n'est pas un péché," Les Affaires, November 13, 1999, p.  

*The budget of the Archdiocese of Montreal was ten million dollars in 2011. 

The Archdiocese of Montreal : A Large Family Hard at Work in a Vast Territory

·        Territory: The Island of Montreal, the cities of Laval, Repentigny, l'Assomption, Saint-Sulpice, and Lachenaie. ·        Number of parishes: 198
·        Catholic Population: 1,736,292 or 71.1 % of the total population
·        Clerical, religious, and lay personnel under the responsibility of the Archdiocese
       - Priests: 422
       - Priests of a religious order: 572, of which 106 have been appointed by the archbishop 
       - Religious women: 3312
       - Brothers: 366
       - Pastoral workers: 99  

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