By Colleen Rowan
WHEELING—After 20 years with the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Alex J. Nagem, chief financial officer (CFO) of the diocese, announced his retirement to devote more time to his beloved wife Lori who faces many challenges as a recent survivor of pancreatic cancer, and his family. “The good that has come from this is that we have become closer to God and each other,” Nagem said.
Nagem made the announcement Aug. 24, and said that he will continue to work through December to help with transitions.
“It is with heavy heart, mixed feelings, but no regrets on the decision that I announce my retirement,” Nagem said in his announcement to parishes, schools, and diocesan employees. “During the 34 years Lori and I have been together I have tried to balance family life and career by trying to give appropriate time to each. There had been days of guilt, though, when I felt I had neglected my family for working long hours. But my family was always understanding. They know that is part of my nature. Now I feel the long working hours must come to end. Lori and I have grown to appreciate each day together not knowing what each new day will bring. She has not asked for much, only my time and this she is deserving,” Nagem said.
Nagem began his service to the church in West Virginia as finance director for Catholic Community Services, which is now Catholic Charities West Virginia, where he served for five years. He then became comptroller of the diocese, then finance director for its Risk Management for Parishes and Schools. He became interim CFO of the diocese last year and was then appointed CFO by Bishop Mark Brennan last fall.
“I had hoped to have worked for Bishop Brennan as his CFO through his retirement,” Nagem said in his announcement. “I find him to be a kind and caring man. Our diocese is fortunate to have him as our bishop. I thank him for his trust in me during his time as our bishop. I thank all staff and clergy in the chancery, schools and parishes for your confidence in me over my 20 years working with you in our diocese.“
Bishop Brennan commended Nagem for stepping into the CFO position after many years working in the Finance Department and before that, CCWVa. “He handled the investigation of the former bishop’s misuse of diocesan funds, the audit of two years’ of diocesan finances, the public disclosure of diocesan investment income, the application for federal CARES act assistance to our parishes and schools (and Catholic Charities West Virginia and the chancery) and many other matters with competence and devotion,” Bishop Brennan said. “He is also a man of deep faith and love for the church. He has always been a pleasure to work with and I will miss him. I pray that God may richly bless him, his wife Lori and all their family as he enters the ranks of the retired.”
As Nagem looks back on his years at the chancery, he said what he has learned is patience and how to listen, and that there is more to life than making money.
“Spiritually it probably made me more of a caring person,” he said. “I learned to listen more to people. I didn’t always have to give my opinion in a conversation. I learned more about individuals, about the church, about problems we are facing, and about how to fix the problems, by listening.”
Working at the chancery in all his positions was something he truly enjoyed, because he was working for the church.
“As a layperson,” he said, “I felt that I was really doing something that helped the church grow every day, even if it was on a financial basis.”
“I have made many friends working for the diocese and many friends are like family to me and Lori. I’m not quite sure if I could’ve done it any place else.”
What stands out most to him in his time with the diocese are the people who work there—in the schools, in the parishes, at the chancery. They are people, he said, who all try to live a Christian lifestyle, not only at work but at home as well, he said. “They are all very caring,” he said. “Not only in their jobs, but for individuals. They are all trying to walk in the footsteps of Christ.”
Nagem said he will miss his co-workers at the chancery, parish and school staff, and the many priests of the diocese. In ending his announcement, he said, “You are all remembered in our prayers, as I hope Lori and I are remembered in yours.”
Diocese’s CFO Announces Retirement
By Colleen Rowan