Four archdiocesan agencies seeing changes in leadership
Four archdiocesan offices – Catholic Charities, the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, Catholic Schools and the Catholic Voice – are taking on new leadership.
Gregg Wilson, a Catholic Charities executive from Houston, began preparing May 10 to take the top spot at Catholic Charities, the charitable arm of the archdiocese, as executive director. After eight years in the position, John Griffith said he looks forward to new challenges when he retires from Catholic Charities June 30.
James Jansen, based in Lincoln and director of collegiate outreach for Colorado-based Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), will begin July 1 as director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
Michael Ashton, a Pennsylvania native who most recently was principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School in Chapel Hill, N.C., will replace Catholic Schools Superintendent Patrick Slattery, a native of Connecticut who is taking the post of executive director with a Baltimore-based network of Catholic secondary schools that includes the high school from which he graduated.
And Dan Rossini, most recently director of communications and editor-in-chief of The Prairie Catholic monthly newspaper of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minn., began a month-long orientation June 1 at the Catholic Voice, before taking over as editor and general manager for Deacon Randy Grosse, who is retiring from the Catholic Voice June 30 after 16 years with the newspaper.
Jansen said he has been interested in serving in parish and adult faith ministry, a desire that can be "fulfilled in this opportunity."
Wilson said it’s an honor to join Catholic Charities in Omaha, "an agency that serves the most vulnerable in our community."
Emphasizing the faith and breaking down barriers to Catholic schools – income, culture, language, distance or disability – are passions Ashton said he brings to archdiocesan schools that match well with efforts already being made.
"I’m very humbled and honored" and excited about the opportunity, he said.
And Rossini said he is excited about his new role. "I’ve always loved working in the Catholic press," he said.
Jansen’s experience at FOCUS includes serving as a missionary on college campuses, training college students to share their faith, leading mission trips to Alaska and the Winnebago Indian Reservation in Winnebago, and managing FOCUS teams on several college campuses while serving chaplains as a consultant and customer service representative.
He also teaches in the Kansas City, Kan.-based School of Faith program for Catholic school teachers and administrators.
Wilson has been with Catholic Charities in Houston since 2013, as vice president of human resources and most recently as chief administrative officer. He also has been an executive with insurance, management and human resources firms in Maryland, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma. In Houston, he has been involved with several ministries including the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul Society, prison ministry and local food banks and homeless shelters.
In addition to his six years as principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School, Ashton has seven years of experience as an administrator and 21 years teaching in elementary and high schools in Pennsylvania.
Active in his parish, he has directed a teen choir, taught religious education, facilitated marriage preparation retreats and participated in men’s faith sharing groups.
Rossini’s seven years with The Prairie Catholic included serving as coordinator of the diocese’s pastoral center staff, and he was managing editor of The Catholic Times diocesan newspaper in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., from 2003 to 2009.
Rossini and his wife, Connie, have four children, as do Ashton and his wife, Cathy, and Wilson and his wife, Shelly. Jansen and his wife, Kimberly, have five children.
LOOKING BACK – AND AHEAD
Griffith said he is looking forward to new challenges, even as he helps Wilson settle into the job and remains willing to assist beyond his departure date.
"I still want to serve," Griffith said. "There is some project work I’ve been asked to do," and the future remains open, he said.
"I am very grateful, blessed and privileged to be part of this for eight years," Griffith said. The agency has worked hard to help others as Christ would, he said.
One highlight of his years at Catholic Charities was bringing the Catholic Charities USA’s national convention to Omaha in 2015, Griffith said. Working with the staff, Archbishop George J. Lucas and others to help people in need at Catholic Charities sites in Omaha, the Omaha and Winnebago Indian reservations, Columbus and elsewhere also were highlights, he said.
"Really it boils down to how we share Christ’s love," he said.
Deacon Grosse also said he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Catholic Voice. "The newspaper has a proud tradition and very important role for the archdiocese and the people and parishes of the archdiocese," he said.
"Our focus at the Voice has been sharing the Good News, both through the work of the church and the lives of the people," he said. "It’s been great to be a part of that."
While quality news coverage was a focus, Deacon Grosse said the addition of programs such as the Colors of Christmas student art contest, which now also provides food for the needy, and Catholic Voice in the Classroom are among the highlights of the last several years, as was the addition of the quarterly La Voz Católica for the Latino community.
Deacon Grosse said he’s looking forward to new challenges and opportunities in retirement, both in his diaconate ministry and through media and communication projects.