As Archbishop John J. Myers was installed to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., in 2001, he inherited a faith community reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on 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, who died in his hometown of Ottawa, Ill., Sept. 24 at age 79, officiated at numerous funerals and services for those who died in the World Trade Center attacks.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., was principal celebrant of Archbishop Myers’ Funeral Mass Sept. 30 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. In opening remarks, he welcomed Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark—who succeeded Archbishop Myers in Newark following his retirement in 2016—and a delegation of priests from the Newark Archdiocese.
Archbishop Myers arrived in Newark from Peoria, where he had been appointed co-adjutor bishop in 1987. He acceded to the seat of bishop of Peoria Jan. 23, 1990. He was appointed to head the Newark Archdiocese in 2001.
He served in Newark for 15 years before his retirement at age 75 in 2016.
The oldest of seven children, he attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, originally intending to be a lawyer. During a retreat in his freshman year, he began to seriously consider the priesthood.
After the future archbishop earned a political science degree from Loras, Peoria Bishop John B. Franz sent him to Rome to attend the seminary at the Pontifical North American College and study theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, from which he received his licentiate. He later obtained a canon law degree from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
He was ordained a priest in 1966 in Peoria. He first served as assistant pastor at two parishes.
In 1977, he began a series of administrative posts, including a decade as vocations director and chancellor. He was vicar general of the Peoria Diocese, 1983-1990.
Archbishop Myers was active in national and international Church affairs. He also served on various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the Committee on Hispanic Affairs and the Committee for Aid to the Church in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
In addition, he served on the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse that drafted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in 2002. The ad hoc committee is now the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.
Burial was at the Bishops’ Mausoleum at St. Mary’s Cemetery in West Peoria, Ill. —CNS