Chicago Archdiocese Boards the DB to DC Transition Train

May 8, 2007 ( - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago plans to move about 10,000 lay employees from a defined benefit pension into a 403(b) plan.

The archdiocese will freeze its DB plan on July 1, 2007 but beneficiaries will keep getting checks and employees will remain entitled to accrued benefits, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

According to the news report, the archdiocese plans to auto enroll affected employees and direct contributions into a target-date retirement fund appropriate for the employee’s age.

Archdiocese officials said the change will allow them a better handle on long-term funding liabilities, but is not expected to cut the current annual $20-million employee retirement expense, the Sun Times reported.

Called the “share plan,” the new system applies to archdiocese employees such as schoolteachers and parish employees. Carol Fowler, director of personnel services for the archdiocese, said only about a third of those workers currently participate in its voluntary savings plan.

Not covered by the plan are priests and employees of Catholic Charities and cemeteries, all of whom are eligible for separate coverage. The archdiocese, covering Cook and Lake counties, employs about 15,000 and ranks 13th largest among the Chicago area’s private employers, according to a 2005 survey by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Booklets about the changeover have been mailed to employees and several meetings have been scheduled around the diocese. Beginning in 2007, the archdiocese assigned management of its retirement accounts to MassMutual Financial Group, the news report said.