Mary Burrett, bishop’s executive assistant, to retire

Categories: Around the Diocese

Colleen Haider, who will succeed Burrett, has been transitioning into the position

By Nikki Rajala
The Visitor

Mary Burrett, executive assistant to the bishop, will retire, effective Dec. 31.

Her successor, Colleen Haider, has been transitioning into the position since mid-November.

Burrett has been with the Diocese of St. Cloud for 23 years, working for three bishops. Bishop Jerome Hanus left a few years after she started, but she has worked closely with Bishop Emeritus John Kinney and now with Bishop Donald Kettler.

“What a great privilege it has been to have worked in this capacity,” Burrett said. “The bishops have been excellent ‘bosses.’ I enjoyed every moment of it. I am grateful to them and to the diocese.”

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Mary Burrett will retire at the end of the year, but will still assist Bishop Emeritus John Kinney eight hours per week. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

She started at the diocese in 1992, working in finance at the Chancery. When Jeanette Pfannenstein retired at the end of 2004, Burrett became Bishop Kinney’s assistant.

As executive assistant, her tasks include helping with both bishops’ calendars, organizing correspondence and mail, making sure things get on their calendars and reminding them of meetings or events they need to be at — essentially, assisting in whatever the bishops need.

“I had no idea the bishops were so busy,” she said, “that they had so many things they needed to do. There are so many groups they work with.”

She is quick to say she doesn’t know everything about the diocese. “But I know where to find most of the answers or who to ask.”
Managing the bishop’s calendar has been the most complicated part of her work.

“Over the years, I learned which events repeat themselves, what things to do in advance, and how far in advance. The bishop has meetings and events in all parts of the diocese — and that means travel time. You have to figure out how long it will take to get there. And provide directions, because Bishop Kettler is new to the diocese and he drives himself. There are also national meetings — and travel arrangements for those.”

Burrett will technically semi-retire — she will assist Bishop Emeritus Kinney for about eight hours a week, working out of the Chancery.
“I look forward to spending more time with my eight grandchildren, ages 9 to 20,” she said. “I would like to do more volunteer work. I know there are many opportunities to serve in the church and in the community.”

On her bucket list is visiting Rome, seeing the sights she has heard about, and perhaps even seeing the pope.

Visitors to the Chancery will likely recognize Haider. She began Nov. 16, observing Burrett and gradually taking over the responsibilities.

Haider is not new to the diocese — she started working at The Catholic Foundation in 2002 and then served as secretary to the bishop from December 2004 to August 2007.

“I’m grateful that Father [Robert] Rolfes [the vicar general] allowed us this time,” Haider said. “Mary will still have an office within the building. It will be great to be able to ask her questions.”

Of the bishop’s calendar, Haider continued, “Nothing gets written down in ink. We have to shuffle things on the schedule when there are priests’ funerals, for example. [Bishop Kettler] is very accommodating when there are changes, to make things work.”

Burrett said, “One of the first things I said to Colleen was to rely on the Holy Spirit — which is something I did every day! I know the Spirit is at work here. I know she is going to be excellent. That makes it easier to leave.”

“Mary has these little tiny feet, but she leaves a huge footprint,” Haider said. “It will be a big job to fill her shoes.”