New Jersey Herald
October 28, 2020
By Deena Yellin
As an advocate for survivors of clergy sex abuse and a watchdog of the Catholic Church, Robert Hoatson is accustomed to provoking the wrath of Catholic leaders.
He’s also no stranger to the consequences of his nearly five decades of activism, including being fired from his job, suspended from the priesthood and treated with disdain by church colleagues.
So when Hoatson was recently informed that he’s receiving an accolade for his crusade from a Catholic institution, he was shocked.
“They called me out of the blue and said they now realize I was right and my work is crucial and they’re giving me this honor,” said Hoatson in disbelief.
The West Orange resident will be inducted next month into the Essex Catholic High School Hall of Fame, alongside a roster of some 200 Catholics who were honored for professional achievements and service to their communities.
Hoatson, a 1970 graduate of the school, will join ex-Yankees catcher Rick Cerone (class of 1972) and Martin Liquori (class of 1967), a record-setting runner who competed in the 1968 Olympics.
The Newark-based school, which was sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark and operated by the Irish Christian Brothers, closed in 2003 but maintains an active alumni group.
“He’s a very courageous person to take on the juggernaut of the Catholic church,” said William Vantuono, one of several alumni who nominated Hoatson for the honor. Vantuono noted that Hoatson protested outside the venue of the school’s alumni dinner to raise awareness of inappropriate conduct by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose name was subsequently removed from the hall of fame.
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