City of Madison

Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

A Blow to the Community

May 29, 2009 4:52 PM

Today, the Catholic Multicultural Center was closed by a decision of Bishop Morlino with less than two days notice. The abruptness of that decision didn't give the community a chance to weigh in on the decision and, even more importantly, it didn't give us any chance to find other resources to meet the needs that the center fulfilled before it ceases operations. I wasn't even made aware of the rapid closing and only found out because Alder Julia Kerr told me yesterday afternoon.

The Catholic Multicultural Center has been a fixture on the South Side for more than five decades. It provides 1,400 meals a month and a host of services to our growingly diverse community. It was an important and cherished contribution of the Catholic Diocese to the community we all share. It was enough of a blow to the community to close it, but why the Bishop chose to close it in this manner is hard to comprehend.

That's for the Diocese to explain. The task of us at the City level is to get to work to see what might be done to meet at least some part of the service gap that this decision has created. So, I asked a group of City staff led by Community Development Director Bill Clingan to meet with Alder Kerr, whose district the center is in, Council President Tim Bruer and others this afternoon to start to think through options.

Faced with our own dire budget situation, I can't promise that the City can swoop in and meet all of the community needs that the center provided. And clearly the Diocese has an obligation here to not just walk away from the needs of the community. In fact, there are so many Catholics of good will in our community that I know they won't. There is no one entity that can do this, and it may be impossible to do everything the center did. What we need to do is triage the needs, consider all of our options and all available resources, build partnerships between the Diocese, the City, Dane County and community groups and do what Madison does best: help one another.


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