SOMERSET, NJ: Rev. Douglas J. Haefner “borrowed” around $500,000 – an amount substantiated by an unreleased internal audit – from church coffers to fund “compulsive behaviors,” according to Bishop James F. Checchio of the Metuchen Diocese.

After the resignation of Rev. Douglas J. Haefner last week, Checchio visited St. Matthias Church on Monday night to address the concerns of parishioners and offer insight into Haefner’s sudden departure.

“One of the things I noticed early on after I started going through the parish finances was that St. Matthias is struggling to pay its bills,” Checchio said.

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The diocese repeatedly tried to audit the church’s finances for at least two years, but Haefner’s declining health kept the books from being scrutinized.

The last time the diocese audited St. Matthias was in 2009.

“The last time we went out to do it the father was in the hospital that day,” Checchio said. “So we knew it wasn’t made up reasons why they were canceling.”

Throughout the repeated attempts to discover why the church operated in the red, the bishop and the diocese had faith that they could fix the problem, that they could work with…


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