December marks one year since Father Matthew Cowan was suspended indefinitely after going public with allegations of sexual harassment by disgraced fellow priest Father Dennis Stilwell.  At the time of the incidents, Stilwell was not only pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Petoskey, but he also served as the parochial vicar for the Diocese of Gaylord.  In essence, he was “second in command” of the Diocese.  Despite allegations that were corroborated by a parishioner as well as allegations by another individual, Stilwell was allowed to retire while Fr. Cowan was indefinitely stripped of all pastoral privileges due to what amounts to a process crime, i.e., the public outing of the harassment by sending Emails outlining the abuse.  This was done after the Diocese failed to respond to Fr. Cowan’s repeated requests for action on the matter.

Gaylord Diocesan Watch, as well as numerous parishioners, has on multiple occasions requested information regarding the the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board actions regarding this matter.  We have repeatedly asked to meet with the Bishop.  He has refused.  We have requested the procedures used by the Review Board to come up with their conclusions.  We have requested the names of the Review Board be made public (as in other dioceses).  In all of these requests, we have received no answer.  One of our members attempted to make an appointment with two members of the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board.  For the first individual (Bob Kellogg), our member was told to call the school office where this individual works to make an appointment .  Repeated requests for an appointment were left unanswered. For the second individual (Fr. Joe Muszkiewicz), no reply to our member was made.  This may be evidence that the list is accurate.

These actions, unfortunately, are typical for this Diocese.  Requests for information or to discuss issues are routinely ignored.  Therefore, we are encouraging readers to contact the following individuals and ask them about the activities of the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board.

We strongly believe that the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board should not be functioning in secret.  We strongly feel that faithful Catholics in the Diocese have a right and are entitled to access relating to procedures the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board uses in investigating and making conclusions.  After all, this involves not only the hard-earned dollars of parishioners, but the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board can ruin the credibility and vocation of a priest or parishioner in the Diocese.  So in the interest of assisting Bishop Raica with his stated desire to “increase transparency and accountability in the Diocese of Gaylord”, the names of the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board members are noted below. We encourage readers to contact these individuals and get their input.  Thank you for your assistance in this matter.  (We cannot deny or confirm the accuracy of these names and/or if these names remain active members; only the Diocese can do that.) If  further information reveals that some of the individuals  are not members of the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board, we will correct it as this information is made available to us.  Please contact us at info@gaylordfaithfulnews.org if you have information regarding the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board.

Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board Members:

 

Betsy Hardy, Traverse City

Bob Kellogg, Cadillac

Dave Martin, Traverse City

Fr. Joe Muszkiewicz, Alpena

Mary O’Connor, Traverse City

Corleen Proulx, Atlanta

Carl Stellin, Bellaire

Tom Tenerovicz, Cheboygan

Kristy Torsky, Gaylord

Kim Walters, Traverse City