The Diocese of Gaylord has a significant priest shortage. This is, unfortunately, the reality for many dioceses in the United States. We have compiled a list of some of the priests who have been taken out of ministry in the Diocese in just the past 5 years, often with little to no word of their whereabouts. This is after many faithful Catholics had donated thousands of dollars to educate, house, or pay for the salary of these priests.
Of concern is that these priests may have not been appropriately vetted by the Diocese. In the case of Fr. Cowan, the Bishop himself is the source of the problem, as Fr. Cowan is a whistleblower who has been indefinitely suspended after credible allegations of sexual harassment by a fellow priest and superior (disgraced retired Fr. Dennis Stilwell). It is unfathomable that with this number of defunct clergy and the shortages exacerbated by these men leaving the priesthood, we continue to have an orthodox priest sidelined with his situation having no definite timeline of resolution.
The following are some of the priests within the past 5 years are no longer in the Diocese and the circumstances regarding their leaving the Diocese. We believe this list may be incomplete; if our readers have additional information, we would be happy to share it:
- Father Joseph Ortega – relieved of all duties in June 2018. He then went on to marry a parishioner in an Episcopal church service.
- Father Craig Haider – left abruptly in 2017 – he was originally from the Diocese of San Diego and was assigned to the Diocese of Gaylord – he is not in active ministry in the Diocese of San Diego at this time. His sudden departure is concerning.
- Father Sylvester Obwaka – involved in a sexual relationship with another priest of the Diocese. Fr. Obwaka was acquitted of sexual harassment in 2018 after a complaint was filed by the fellow priest. The jury found his sexual activity with the fellow priest to be consensual. Although Fr. Obwaka was found not guilty of any civil charges (but clearly not a candidate for continued ministry due to his homosexuality) he was relieved of his duties in the Diocese while the other priest continues in ministry for the Diocese.
- Monsignor Daniel Gallagher – assigned to Rome. While working in Rome, he developed a romantic relationship with a woman and fathered a child. He was relieved of his duties in 2017 and now teaches Latin at Cornell University.
- Father Kenneth Stachnik – on leave for ?illness.
Please pray for our priests and for holy and spiritually strong men for our Diocese. We certainly need them!