It seems like a pretty sweet way to retire: living in a 7,500-square-foot mansion with two swimming pools. But when the soon-to-be retiree is Archbishop John J. Myers, and the construction bill tied to the 3,000-square-foot addition on his existing weekend home will be footed by the Archdiocese of Newark—which the New York Times points out had to close a beloved Catholic elementary school two years ago due to a lack of funds—well, the news isn't going over so well. It didn't two weeks ago, when the Star-Ledger reported on the addition to the Franklin Township house, where Myers has spent his weekends since the archdiocese bought it in 2002. And it didn't go over well this Sunday, which saw parishioners closing their checkbooks, particularly to the ongoing Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, which supports Catholic schools, feeding the poor, and retired priests, among other causes.
Withholding funds has been a tough decision for some, who feel it's the only way to send a message—though they acknowledge the move will hurt the poor, not the archbishop. In an effort to better target him, a number of parishioners tell the Star-Ledger they have written to the Vatican's US ambassador, asking that he speak to Pope Francis about having Myers removed from his position. No funds from the appeal will go to the addition on the $800,000 home, which already claims five bedrooms and an amoeba-shaped swimming pool. With two years to go until retirement, Myers, 72, is tacking on a three-story, 3,000-square-foot addition that will house an indoor exercise pool, hot tub, library, and elevator, and the archdiocese says it is using money from the sales of other properties, along with donations, to pay for it. Per the Star-Ledger, records show the addition will cost at least $500,000—and that doesn't include architectural costs, furniture, or landscaping.