Gaylord Diocesan Watch has received a copy of the agenda for the recent diocesan-wide priests’ meeting held June 24-25, 2019. As part of the gathering, priests who have had 5 year milestones are recognized. Noticeably absent is the 5 year anniversary of Father Matthew Cowan who was ordained in 2014. He is officially listed in the Diocesan website as being on leave, but his service to the Diocese was not recognized at the meeting as has been the case for any priest who had reached 5 years of service since ordination. We believe Father Cowan should be recognized for the service he has provided the Diocese.
The agenda for this meeting was also notable for a session titled “Boundary Issues”. The presenter listed for this session was Larry LaCross, LMSW, who is the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese. Although some members of the Diocese believe this individual works independently, his services are paid by Catholic Human Services. On the board of Catholic Human Services is Bishop Raica, and the Diocese of Gaylord heavily funds Catholic Human Services activities in the Diocese. This raises concerns of conflict of interest with regard to the handling of abuse claims in the Diocese of Gaylord and fuels the suspicions many faithful have with regard to these issues. It is not known whether or not Father Dennis Stilwell was in attendance or participated in the discussion of this topic before his taking the month of July off, after which he will become the “sacramental minister” for the parishes in Boyne City and Boyne Falls.