OTTAWA, Ill. • As Archbishop John J. Myers was installed to lead the Archdiocese of Newark in 2001, he inherited a faith community that was reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on neighboring New York City.
Archbishop John Myers, 79, helped calm N.J. Catholics after 9/11 attacks
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 Sept. 24 at age 79, officiated at numerous funerals and services for those who died in the World Trade Center attacks.
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.”
Meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark offered prayers and condolences to Archbishop Myers’ family after learning of his death.
“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,” Cardinal Tobin said in a statement released by the 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 served in Newark for 15 years before his retirement at age 75 in 2016. The archbishop guided the Archdiocese through two initiatives that focused on parish and community participation that served to strengthen the presence of schools and churches in their locales and allowed parishes to adapt to demographic shifts in northern New Jersey.
Born July 26, 1941, in Ottawa, Ill., John Joseph Myers was the oldest of seven children of Jack and Margaret Myers. He attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, originally intending to be a lawyer. It was during a retreat in his freshman year that he began to seriously consider the priesthood.
After earning 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 in 1967. He obtained a canon law degree from The Catholic University of America, Washington. He was ordained a priest Dec. 17, 1966, in Peoria. 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 from 1983 to 1990.
Archbishop Myers was active in national and international Church affairs. He was an early and avid supporter of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, which is now the St. John Paul II National Shrine. He also served on the board of governors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center; the Seminary Committee and board of trustees of The Catholic University of America; the Papal Foundation; and 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.
His funeral services were held in Peoria.
For a full biography, visit www.rcan.org/offices-and-ministries/archbishops-office/biography.