Enfield: Church In North Maple Street House Is Led By Man Who Served 12 Years In Prison For Larceny - Hartford Courant
Walzer, who operated churches in Branford, West Haven and East Hartford prior to his conviction, and in New Haven afterward, said that the church — which is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church — decided to move to the red clapboard house at 195 N. Maple St. because of the “opportunity to buy an ideal property for a missionary district.”
Open since June 1, the church, known as St. Robert’s Monastery, has just begun trying to attract congregants and is holding Mass on Sunday evenings in a converted garage, according to Bishop Martin Boyle. According to the town clerk’s office, the property is still owned by the estate of previous resident Robert Pagnam, who died in 2006.
The Catholic Charismatic Church is a conservative sect that follows Old Catholic teachings, celebrating the Gregorian canon and its liturgies, according to the group. It is not related to the subset of Catholicism in which mainstream Catholic priests incorporate charismatic practices — like faith healing — into services.
Walzer, 69, said he hoped to develop a religious community in Enfield — an addition to the more than 20 U.S. and international churches he heads as the church’s worldwide leader, Patriarch Augustine I. He was chosen as patriarch in July 2010, less than a year after he was released from probation in September 2009.
“All in the past,” said Walzer, when asked about his criminal background, before referring all further questions about his history to church counselor Bishop Joseph Veight in New Jersey.
Veight said that church officials were aware of Walzer’s background when they appointed him patriarch last year.
“When we talked to him, he was candid about his past,” said Veight. “He wants to live out his life in service to the church. … We believe he should be able to do that.”
Walzer’s 1995 conviction came after jurors found him guilty of defrauding a Wallingford businessman, allegedly wearing religious attire when he persuaded the businessman to invest tens of thousands of dollars in stamps that Walzer never purchased. Instead, Walzer showed the businessman stamps that had been donated to the church and used the money for personal expenses, including membership fees at the Hartford Club.