Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Parishioners Want Answers from Archbishop

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Parishioners Want Answers from Archbishop

Article excerpt

TEANECK - Outraged over a pricey expansion of the Newark archbishop's retirement home, a coordinated group of churchgoers is writing letters of protest to the pope and withdrawing financial support for an important archdiocese annual fundraiser.

In perhaps the most vocal and organized response to date, parishioners at the Church of St. Anastasia in Teaneck formed a 10- member committee to oppose the use of $500,000 in archdiocese funds for an add-on to Archbishop John J. Myers' home on a sprawling estate in Hunterdon County. The 3,000 square-foot addition will include an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and a fifth bedroom.

The founder of the committee, Dr. Raul Caceres, 72, a plastic surgeon who has started charities in Peru and Bolivia, said he has collected more than 100 letters from parishioners angered by the expense. If the group doesn't get answers from Myers about why a 3,000-square-foot extension to his home is necessary, he said the committee will hand-deliver the letters to the Vatican.

"We're not going to just be outraged. We have to do something," Caceres said in an interview Wednesday.

The committee is encouraging parishioners to withhold contributions to the archbishop's annual appeal, which collects funds to support schools, Catholic Charities, youth and campus ministries and other programs. The archdiocese has stressed that contributions to the annual appeal are not funding the retirement home expansion, but Caceres said the upscale living quarters has called into question Myers' financial stewardship.

"This is the time for us to say, in New Jersey we want to make sure the church is transparent," Caceres said.

Jim Goodness, an archdiocese spokesman, said the expansions will be funded by the sale of other archdiocese properties and private donors who contributed directly to the project. Additional office space is needed when Myers continues church activities in his retirement, and a "therapeutic whirlpool" will help him cope with arthritis, he said.

Myers, 72, must submit his resignation when he turns 75. He has not directly responded to the controversy.

Kathy Glowski, a member of the St. …

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