On July 20, 2021, the Diocese of Gaylord will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Prominently displayed in the announcement of the celebration is the presence of past bishops of the Diocese, Bishops Raica and Hebda. Archbishop Allen Vigneron will be the presider.
The list of bishops is a who’s who of scandal and corrupt leadership that spans years. Just a few examples:
- Bishop Steven Raica is the immediate past Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord. His tenure was marked by scandals including the sacking of Fr. Matthew Cowan due to a sexual abuse whistleblower complaint. After accusing disgraced Fr. Dennis Stilwell of sexual harassment, Fr. Cowan was removed from ministry for 18 months. He returned to ministry after appealing the decision to the Vatican. He is now a pastor in the Diocese of Salina, Kansas. After this horrendous set of events, Bishop Raica was transferred to the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, for no specific reason. Many have suggested that this was an attempt to get Raica out of the mess he made in the Diocese of Gaylord. Gaylord Diocesan Watch has been notified that a Vos Estis complaint has been lodged against Bishop Raica. A Vos Estis complaint is a newly established protocol whereby concerned individuals can request the Vatican review a clergy member’s conduct for covering up a case of sexual abuse. For more information, click here. Bishop Raica is identified in a lawsuit which alleges a massive coverup of sexual misconduct involving over 30 clerics.
- Bishop Walter Hurley, Administrator for the Diocese of Gaylord, has been an activist in the Diocese despite his official role as place keeper until a new bishop is permanently installed. Bishop Hurley as been a vocal advocate of Catholic Relief Services dollars supporting anti-Catholic agendas in Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. He has spurned any attempts by Gaylord Diocesan Watch to meet with him to discuss concerns regarding the Diocese. Vocations in the Diocese, already minimal, have been cut in half during Hurley’s “leadership”.
- As archbishop of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, Bishop Hebda has come under fire for his failure to reign in clerical abuse. His current leadership has recently been spotlighted in his response (or lack thereof) to the heretical Association of United States Catholic Priests.
- Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s tenure at the Archdiocese of Detroit has been rocked by numerous scandals involving a host of issues. Just one example: Fr. Edward Perrone continues to be in pastoral limbo after he was removed from ministry following allegations of abuse that were later dropped by the Vatican. Fr. Perrone then filed a defamation suit against an investigator hired by the Archdiocese. The case was settled by the Archdiocese who agreed to pay Fr. Perrone $125,000 in damages. Good luck on Fr. Perrone being given any duties in the Archdiocese of Detroit at all of this. Fr. Perrone is now suing the Msgr. Michael Bugarin, one of Vigneron’s right hand men, alleging false statements made against him.
These are the men who will celebrate the Diocese. Please pray for them and pray for a good and holy bishop to succeed them. It may be a faith builder to realize that despite this list of past and present leaders of the Catholic Church in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan, there are still people regularly attending Mass. We can be grateful that our faith is not dependent on the faith, actions, or lack thereof, of Church leaders.