Announcing affair, priest quits Arundel church

June 23, 1994|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Sun Staff Writer

In yesterday's editions, a priest who resigned his pastorate near Annapolis after admitting adultery with a parishioner was incorrectly identified. He is the Rev. James R. Schaefer.

The Sun regrets the error.

A senior Roman Catholic priest has resigned as pastor of a large congregation near Annapolis after disclosing an adulterous relationship with a recently divorced woman who was a Eucharistic minister.

The Rev. John R. Schaefer, 63, made the stunning announcement at all five Masses June 11 and 12 at St. Andrew by the Bay Church in Cape St. Claire. He had been a popular priest there since 1986, when he was assigned to lead the parish out of a scandal involving allegations that the previous pastor sexually abused boys.


"Over the last two years, I have been growing in relationship with a woman in our parish," Father Schaefer told the congregation. "For the most part, it has been a celibate relationship. On a few occasions it has not. Some of you suspected this. It became a matter of public record these last two weeks."

He referred to the fact that he had been called as a witness in the divorce case, which the woman filed against her husband. That case was settled out of court recently.

As a Eucharistic minister, the woman, who Father Schaefer said remains his friend, assists at Mass by distributing Holy Communion. She has three young children.

The priest said yesterday that he would begin a four-week period of reflection at an undisclosed seminary on Monday, during which he will try to decide whether to return to the active priesthood. "I had hoped to remain your pastor for two more years and request retirement at age 65," he told the parish. "This disclosure makes that impossible."

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