On March 10, the Diocese of Gaylord released an updated statement regarding Fr. Bryan Medlin, former pastor of St. Mary Church and School in Lake Leelanau. Fr. Medlin is accused of sending extremely obscene text messages to high school students at St. Mary school. The incidents date back to 2019. According to information provided to Gaylord Diocesan Watch, the Diocese was made aware of inappropriate behavior by Fr. Medlin at that time. In July 2021, Fr. Medlin was suddenly moved from St. Mary School to Cross in the Woods parish, even though he had served less than 3 years at St. Mary. Many faithful Catholics questioned the move as an attempt by the then Administrator of the Diocese, Bishop Walter Hurley, to soften the PR blow that was to occur when/if the allegations were made public last fall. After these allegations were reported by local news media, Fr. Medlin was removed from his assignment. Gaylord Diocesan Watch reported on this sad state of affairs in previous posts. You can read them here, here and here.
According to the Diocese statement, the Michigan Attorney General’s office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against Fr. Medlin. The Diocese stated that they were made aware of this just this last week. Two days ago, the Traverse City Record Eagle published an article summarizing the activities of Fr. Medlin. The article quotes some of the crude and perverse statements sent by Fr. Medlin. Due to the sensitive nature and inappropriate content of the messages sent by Fr. Medlin, Gaylord Diocesan Watch has chosen not to quote them. It is sufficient to say they are obscene and disgusting. Faithful Catholics are questioning why Fr. Medlin was allowed to engage in inappropriate behavior over the course of more than two years until he was removed from active ministry. Why did Bishop Raica not remove Fr. Medlin in 2019? Why did Bishop Hurley move, not remove, Fr. Medlin? This appears to be yet another example of the erosion, and more significantly, the implosion, of the priesthood in our Diocese. When it comes to Church leadership, who’s to be trusted? Where is the respect for Catholics in the Diocese and their families?
The Diocese stated that they “will immediately begin an internal review and investigation by Church authorities to determine further action. Fr. Medlin will remain on administrative leave and his parish responsibilities will continue to be overseen by another priest at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods.”
Some faithful in the Diocese are questioning why an investigation by the Diocese into the activities of Fr. Medlin are just beginning. Why has there not been an investigation earlier, i.e., in 2019? Why wait until another entity, in this case the state of Michigan, completes an investigation? Would it not be more prudent and respectful for both the families of the affected and Fr. Medlin to have this completed as soon as possible? Is Church time slower than government time?
Gaylord Diocesan Watch will continue to monitor this situation. Please pray for the families involved in this scandal. Please also pray for Fr. Medlin.