Because of overwhelming requests from faithful and concerned Catholics in the Diocese of Gaylord, we have decided to expand our apostolate to include issues in the Diocese that may have a significant impact.  We ask for continued support and prayers for our efforts.


Gaylord Diocesan Watch was established by Catholics after it was learned that Father Matthew Cowan was suspended (put on administrative leave) by the Diocese due to his public revelations of sexual abuse by Father Dennis Stilwell.  These allegations were corroborated by two other individuals but dismissed by the Diocese as “not credible” and “unsubstantiated”.  The accused priest (Father Dennis Stilwell) was found to have hired a known child sex offender for years with duties that included oversight of altar boys.  This accused priest also has allowed a disgraced sexual offender, Bishop Robert Lynch, whom he described as “my hero”, to preach at St. Francis in Petoskey.  Despite all of these findings, Father Stilwell remains a priest in good standing and Father Cowan remains in virtual house arrest.  He is not able to visit a Catholic Church in the Diocese of Gaylord, and he is not allowed to preach or administer the sacraments except to say mass in his home.  The Diocese claims he has been suspended due to the leaking of private information to the public regarding the allegations.  We do not believe this assertion.  The investigation into his allegations was flawed and mishandled from its beginning.  Furthermore, the cruel and unusual punishment given to Father Cowan secondary to a process crime just doesn’t meet the smell test for legitimacy based on the information of this case.  We remain concerned that there is a cover-up with this case.  Bishop Raica has refused to meet with us.


Although our commitment to a resolution of Father Cowan’s suspension remains, since our establishment, more information has come to light with regard to the functioning of the Diocese of Gaylord.  Our goal has now grown to assist the Diocese in its mission to bring souls to Heaven regarding a host of issues.  Therefore, we are increasing the scope of our apostolate to support Bishop Raica so that he may be the shepherd of his flock with clarity and mercy.  We are doing our best to live in the spirit of Vatican II and actively participate in the life of the Church.  We will continue to reach out to Bishop Raica, lend a hand, and as he stated, “partner” with him to make this Diocese better.


We thank all of you for your support which has been overwhelming.  So many of you are praying for us and supporting us with your kind words and encouragement.  It is truly humbling and supernatural.  We welcome your input.  Please contact us if you feel there is an issue that must be addressed in the Diocese and we will do what we can to address these issues.