Obituaries, Week of October 3, 2020

Archbishop Will be Recalled for his ‘Staunch Support of Church Teachings’

Retired Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., is seen in this undated photo. He died Sept. 24, 2020, at age 79. He headed the Newark Archdiocese from 2001 to 2016. (Photo:CNS/courtesy Archdiocese of Newark)

The Most Reverend John J. Myers, J.C.D., D.D., Archbishop Emeritus of Newark, died in his hometown of Ottawa, Illinois, Sept. 24. He was 79 years old.

Archbishop Myers, was born in Ottawa and was the eldest of seven children. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1966 and consecrated coadjutor Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, in 1987. 

On July 24, 2001, His Holiness, Saint John Paul II, called then-Bishop Myers to serve as the fifth Metropolitan Archbishop of Newark, NJ. He was installed as Archbishop of Newark on October 9, 2001. His Holiness conferred the Pallium on Archbishop Myers on June 29, 2002.

As Archbishop of Newark, he inherited a faith community that was reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on neighboring New York City. Recognizing the difficulties people were facing, Archbishop Myers within two days of his installation released a pastoral message seeking to assuage the pain and suffering of families who had lost loved ones, provide spiritual guidance and counsel, and reinforce the church’s teaching on God’s divine mercy. Titled “If God is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us? Reflections on Faith and Terrorism,” the document offered words of condolences that illustrated the prelate’s concern for a flock shaken by the tragic events. Archbishop Myers officiated at numerous funerals and services for those who died in the World Trade Center attacks.

In addition to his responsibilities as Metropolitan Archbishop of Newark, Archbishop Myers had also served as the Ecclesial Superior, missio sui iuris, of the Turks & Caicos Islands. 

After reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, Archbishop Myers submitted his letter of resignation as Archbishop of Newark. His resignation was accepted on November 7, 2016.  Upon the installation of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., as Archbishop of Newark on January 6, 2017, Archbishop Myers was granted the title Archbishop Emeritus of Newark.

Archbishop Myers’ episcopal motto, Mysterium Ecclesiae Luceat (“Let the Mystery of the Church Shine Forth”) is a summary of the central theme of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. He often said, “I cannot make someone believe. I can, however, explain what the Church teaches and the reasons for that teaching, and then invite him or her to be open to that teaching and embrace it.” 

Upon hearing the news of Archbishop Myers’ passing, Cardinal Tobin said, “On behalf of my brother Bishops and the entire family of God here in our local Church of Newark, I extend my heaartfelt prayers and condolences to his family. Let us thank God for Archbishop Myers’ service and his love of our Church. I entrust him to the loving arms of our Blessed Mother Mary, and I pray that Our Lord grant him peace.”

In the neighboring Diocese of Trenton, Bishop David M. O’Connell remembered Archbishop Myers for the friendship they developed and his “great sense of humor and a keen interest in literature, especially science fiction.”

Bishop O’Connell recalled how the archbishop was “well known for his staunch support of Catholic Church teachings.”

Meanwhile, Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky announced the death of his predecessor “with deep sadness and yet with confidence in the power of Christ’s resurrection.”

A funeral Mass will be held at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Burial will be in the Bishops’ Mausoleum at St. Mary’s Cemetery in West Peoria.

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