Priest misses church due to alcohol and sexual impropriety

St. Mary's Washingtonville. Photo via social media.

WASHINGTONVILLE – Pastor Jeffrey Maurer of St. Mary Parish has been away from the church since August 20.  The parishioners had been told that Maurer was on “retreat”.

A letter from Maurer that is expected to be delivered to parishioners on September 14, provides insight into the “retreat” that includes alcoholism and improper advances towards another adult.  A source with close ties to the church has indicated that the “other adult” is a Seminarian for the Archdiocese.

“I have been away from the parish these past few weeks on a time of much-needed reflection,” the letter starts but then delivers the admission from Maurer indicating that he is in a residential treatment program for alcohol.  “The period of reflection and treatment has also forced me to confront the fact that, when drinking, I made an improper advance toward another adult.”

Maurer said that in his absence, Father Joe Bonnici will be handling administrative duties on a temporary basis.

Monsignor Joseph LaMorte, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of New York has sent an email to priests on September 13, seeking to quiet the “gossip and rumor”.  The full text of the email is below.

My Brothers in the Priesthood:
Now and then, priests need to take a break from ministry for a range of reasons.  Tonight, I write to share a letter from Father Jeff Maurer to the parishioners of St. Mary, Washingtonville which we expect will be delivered in tomorrow’s mail related to his time away from the parish since August 20 for evaluation and reflection.
Because of the climate in which we live, we can’t just disappear overnight.  Such a circumstance only leads to gossip and rumor.  An explanation of prolonged absence is owed to the parish family.  In the long run, this transparency and honesty will be very helpful to the individual priest and the rest of us.
To some, this may seem to be an unnecessary and unfair exposure of a priest’s personal life.  But this letter from Father Maurer is meant to shield him and may help to temper the chatter and tales.
Much is demanded from us in our over-extended lives, but I know you will hold Jeff and the faithful of St. Mary in prayer.
Share this with your priests and staff members who may not read the Announcements Mailbox.
In the Lord,

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