In February of 2019, four orthodox Catholics got together and started Gaylord Diocesan Watch as an organization to assist the Gaylord Diocesan bishop and clergy in improving the Diocese. Since its inception, Gaylord Diocesan Watch has uncovered, explained, and highlighted a host of concerns regarding a Catholic Diocese in shambles. From mothballing a young, holy priest of promise (Father Matthew Cowan) to his refusal to meet with or answer the written correspondence of faithful Catholics, Bishop Raica (and some of his staff) have exhibited a pattern of pastoral misdirection that has been extremely damaging to the Diocese of Gaylord. The lack of communication and transparency forced us into this situation since the Diocese continues in its refusal to meet its fiduciary responsibility of appropriate leadership and regard of faithful Catholics in the Diocese. Here are just a few of the many topics we have discussed this year:
Every practicing Catholic has the right to receive accurate and timely information with regard to who is interacting with their children. The Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board has been revealed to be lacking in accountability and impartiality by our research. Its handling of Father Matthew Cowan’s allegation of sexual misconduct by disgraced Father Dennis Stilwell can be aptly described as abysmal. A related sad example of Diocesan mismanagement was our reporting of Father Stilwell allowing a known sexual offender (on the Diocesan list of sexual offenders) and former priest James Holtz to work for years with altar boys until an uproar by concerned lay faithful. Father Stilwell also invited retired Bishop Robert Lynch to serve mass at his parish. Bishop Lynch is known for paying his former Public Relations Director nearly $100, 000 after this Director accused Bishop Lynch of sexual harassment. Father Stilwell was given a full retirement and retirement party attended to by Bishop Raica.
Every practicing Catholic has the right to receive accurate and timely information with regard to how their donated dollars are being spent. Gaylord Diocesan Watch reported on serious problems with the Catholic Services Appeal and money from this Appeal going to abortion-promoting organizations. More recently, we uncovered the connections of a fundraising tool, #iGiveCatholic, with numerous pro-abortion and anti-Catholic individuals and groups. We will continue to monitor the spending patterns of the Diocese as a service to our readers and supporters.
Every practicing Catholic has the right to expect their pastor will be appropriate in presenting authentic Catholic teaching and practice. Gaylord Diocesan Watch has brought to light numerous obvious problems with some of the clergy in this Diocese. One of the most notorious is Father Michael Haney, pastor of Cross of the Woods in Indian River. Unfortunately, he has provided a wealth of unhappy news for the priesthood by his words and actions.
On a joyful note, Gaylord Diocesan Watch has illustrated positive developments in the Diocese when they have been brought to our attention. We will continue to do so.
With regard to Father Cowan, the original inspiration to establish this organization: he remains in good spirits. Our sources indicate that he has appealed his suspension to the Vatican; that is where it is at this time. There is no known timeline when a ruling on his case is to be decided. We continue to ask all concerned Catholics to keep him, Bishop Raica, and the Diocesan clergy and staff in your prayers. We pray that Father Cowan’s suspension will soon be ended. Gaylord Diocesan Watch expects that he will return to full ministry; whether this is in this Diocese or another Diocese remains to be seen.
We would like to offer our sincere gratitude to all who have supported us by prayers, monetary donations, compliments and critiques. We ask all of you to continue to do all of these for us. We receive no financial assistance other than what is provided for by private donation.
Our goals remain the same (as stated in our mission statement): we will continue to “dedicate ourselves to promoting the full teachings of the Catholic Church in theory and practice. In keeping with the directives of Bishop Steven Raica, who implored the members of the diocese to “partner” with him, with transparency and accountability, we are dedicated to supporting the bishop of this diocese, its priests, and the faithful laity who have taken his directives to heart.”
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power of God, cast into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
May God Bless the Diocese of Gaylord, its Bishop, and its clergy and lay faithful, in 2020.