Three months after Father Matthew Cowan was suspended from his priestly duties in the Diocese, Gaylord Diocesan Watch has learned that his appeal of his placement on administrative leave has been sent to the Vatican for review.
In August of 2018, Father Cowan filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment with the Diocese of Gaylord due to allegations that he was sexually abused by a fellow priest. After failing to receive notification of a decision regarding these allegations, Father Cowan was placed on administrative leave shortly after he went public with his allegations against Father Dennis Stilwell. It was later discovered that the investigation was mishandled from its beginning. Gaylord Diocesan Watch then learned that Father Stilwell had a known diocesan sexual offender and disgraced priest working at the church where Father Stilwell has been pastor for years. After Gaylord Diocesan Watch announced its establishment, the Diocese of Gaylord, in a surprise announcement, stated it had reopened the investigation into the allegations against Father Stilwell.
Despite these developments, Father Cowan remains on administrative leave and Father Stilwell is still pastor of St. Frances Church in Petoskey. Bishop Steven Raica refuses to meet with members of Gaylord Diocesan Watch and the Diocese refused to disclose the activities or findings of the reopened investigation.
The timeline for a decision of Father Cowan’s case is not known. We will continue to monitor this and other developments in the Diocese regarding this important issue. Please continue to pray for Fr. Cowan, Bishop Raica, and all priests of the Diocese of Gaylord. We are exceedingly grateful for the outpouring of support Gaylord Diocesan Watch has received from so many faithful both within and outside of the diocese.