N. Plainfield Priest Leaves Amid Sex Allegations

By Chad Hemenway
Courier News
May 8, 2007

North Plainfield — For the second time in less than two years, a Roman Catholic priest here has left a borough church amid allegations of clerical sexual misconduct.

Father John Giordano told parishioners during Mass at St. Luke's Church last weekend that he was retiring, effective immediately, after 40 years of service as a priest. Nearly 30 of those have been at St. Luke's. In a letter to parishioners, he cited the pressures of running a parish, and allegations of sexual misconduct of youth made against him that he said have been settled, and that he "categorically" denies.

In July 2005, the diocese removed Father John "Jack" Casey from the borough's other Roman Catholic Church, St. Joseph's, to investigate a sexual misconduct allegation made against him.

In a letter by Giordano posted for parishioners this weekend at St. Luke's and sent anonymously to the Courier News, Giordano said he was retiring from the "administration and pressure of running a parish." Contributing factors to his retirement were "allegations of sexual misconduct involving youth made against me," he wrote in the letter.


Dear Parishioners,

It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from the pastorate of Saint Luke's effective this weekend.

For nearly a generation, I have been privileged to be among you as one who serves. You have brought much joy and happiness to my ministry and to my life. Together we have created, as St. Luke asks of us, a community of believers — one in mind and heart. Your generosity and constant gift of self for others has always been a source of inspiration to me. Together we have accomplished much for the Lord.

However, after forty years of service I want to retire from the administration and pressure of running a parish. Necessarily there is a bit of sadness as I leave St. Luke's since I have spent most of my priestly ministry here — I will definitely miss you. No new path or direction in life is ever taken without recognizing the loss of what one leaves behind.

Also contributing to my desire to retire is the fact that there have been allegations of sexual misconduct involving youth made against me. These allegations refer to events alleged to have happened over twenty-five years ago. I categorically deny them. The allegations were handled properly according to both civil and canon law. Nevertheless, the possibility that these allegations could yet disrupt the life of our parish becomes another factor in my decision to retire.

And so, as I look forward to this next phase of my life and new horizons in my ministry, I will always remember and be grateful for the love and many kindnesses you have extended to me. I ask your continued prayers and support and be assured that you will always have a very a special place in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers.

With Love and Remembrance

Fr. John Giordano

The allegations were made more than 25 years ago, and "I categorically deny them," Giordano wrote. "The allegations were handled properly according to both civil and canon law." But he wrote that the possibility that the "allegations could yet disrupt the life" of the parish contributed to his decision to retire.

No one answered calls Monday seeking comment at St. Luke's.

Joanne Ward, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Metuchen, could only say that the allegations against Giordano were reported to authorities and they were investigated by the Diocesan Review Board more than two decades ago. She said the diocese, which includes Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Warren counties, does not comment on the outcomes of the review board.

"I can say the diocese has had a long-standing policy of almost immediately referring these things to the prosecutor's office, whether it be now or 25 years ago," Ward said.

Ward said the Diocese of Metuchen has received no formal letter of resignation from Giordano, but she said she has read the letter Giordano wrote to parishioners. She did not know where the alleged sexual misconduct occurred.

In the Casey case, the accusation involved a minor from about 20 years ago, when Casey was a parochial vicar at St. Peter the Apostle parish in New Brunswick. Ward said the canonical trial involving this matter is in its early procedural stages.

Jerry McKenna, a member of St. Luke's since it was formed 35 years ago, said he and many others "thought the world of" Giordano.

"He is a fine, warm and gentle person loved by everyone in the parish community — the finest priest I've ever known, and one of the most popular," McKenna said.

McKenna said he had five children who went through the parish who loved and highly respected Giordano.

"I feel that in this country people are presumed innocent until proven guilty but priests are presumed guilty until proven innocent — something that is almost impossible for them to do," McKenna said.

Giordano's replacement has not been named, Ward said.

In a separate incident Monday, a math teacher at a diocesan high school, Cardinal McCarrick High School in South Amboy, was charged with sexual assault and official misconduct, authorities said. Kevin Burns, 24, of Parlin, allegedly had an "inappropriate relationship" with a current female student of the Augusta Street school, authorities said.

Chad Hemenway can be reached at (908) 707-3148 or


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.