Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Diocese’s computer operations undergo personnel transition

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the July 3, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Jerry Dufresne (left) retires after almost two decades overseeing computer operations for the Spokane Diocese. (IR photo)

Jerry Dufresne retired June 30 after almost 19 years as director of computer operations for the Diocese of Spokane. Under his guidance the diocese expanded into the technological age of websites, networked computer systems and e-mail.

Dufresne was hired by Father (now monsignor) Frank Bach when Lawrence Welsh was bishop, and started work Nov. 6, 1984. Dufresne retired from the Air Force in 1979 and had recently completed a management information systems degree at Eastern Washington University. “I was starting work on a business degree when the job came open,” he said.

Starting with a mid-range IBM system that was in place when he came on the job, Dufresne leaves the diocese with a multi-networked PC system to handle all facets of the diocesan church’s business life, from parish demographics to labels for numerous mailings to accounting.

In the world of technology, the IBM system used in 1984 could be compared to a Model T Ford. “There was no e-mail or internet then,” Dufresne said. Eventually the diocese moved its information and business systems to an AS 400 which was used until 18 months ago. That’s when the PC network was put in place. “It (the AS 400) served us well,” Dufresne said.

That system would sometimes need work above and beyond the ordinary work day. Dufresne recalled that he often put in 60 and 70 hour weeks, working on computer servicing, change-overs, breakdowns and glitches. Beyond his own expertise, he credits Michael Green of PCN Technologies for much of the system’s success.

Dufresne said one of the highlights of his time in the diocese was working with the late Providence Sister Bernadette Botch. She was Bishop’s Secretary for Diocesan Business Affairs for several years until her death in December 2000.

Msgr. John Steiner, who is co-vicar general of the diocese, became another good friend. “Jerry traveled all over the diocese to help parishes enter the computer age,” Msgr. Steiner said. “I am most grateful to him for the e-mail system which our diocese has in place. It has been invaluable in bringing the work of the bishop into every parish...The diocese has benefited a great deal from Jerry’s personal commitment to his work.”

Dufresne is also grateful for the support and friendship of Bishop William Skylstad. The bishop presented Dufresne with a gift of a digital camera from the staff at a farewell party held for Dufresne June 17.

The bishop thanked Dufresne for his service and dedication to the diocese. “We have made remarkable progress over these 19 years due to Jerry’s efforts and oversight,” he said.

According to Mary Rogers, long-time secretary at Assumption Parish, Walla Walla, “The best thing about the diocese is Jerry Dufresne. He has been Johnny on the spot (whenever I needed help), either on the phone or coming down. He’s been so patient and I’m going to miss him.”

When he was hired, Dufresne had a dark brown beard. He has a beard again now, but it’s mostly white. On any given day, if you ask Dufresne how he is, he will smile and say, “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in.”

His plans for life in retirement include home renovation and also some kind of volunteerism. “I’m not one to sit and watch television much,” Dufresne said. The TV comes on, however, when the Yankees’ baseball team is playing. Dufresne is a dedicated fan.

At Dufresne’s retirement party, Bishop Skylstad wished him well. “On behalf of our diocesan family and for myself, I would like to offer him my prayerful gratitude and best wishes as he enters retiremen,” said Bishop Skylstad.

*****

Mary Green (right) began working June 1 as the diocese’s new computer operations manager. (IR photo)

Replacing Jerry Dufresne is Mary Green of Spokane. She began work June 1 as the new director of computer operations for the Diocese of Spokane.

Green has been employed in the diocese the past two years as web coordinator, redesigning, updating and maintaining the site. She is a Spokane native, and graduated from Gonzaga Prep. She also attended Gonzaga University, where she earned a degree in communications and political science.

She was employed in the international student program at GU for four years, serving as program coordinator. From there she went to work for the Girl Scout Council as their website and publications manager. She worked there four years.

In the Girl Scout office, Green did extensive computer work, “moving people from paper to electronics. I put information on the computer, getting it out of the filing cabinets,” she said. “I loved helping people be organized and have better access” to what they needed.

In her new post, Green will make sure the computer system for all the diocesan and parish programs are running smoothly. She will assist the parishes, schools, and all other entities who are networked into the diocesan system, with their technological needs.

She spent the past month with Jerry Dufresne, the former director, learning programs, procedures and “where the resources are.” She is also getting acquainted with the people behind the computers and looks forward to assisting them with their technology needs.


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