After three years of absence, brokered in the wake of credible allegations against the disgraced Fr. Dennis Stilwell, Fr. Matthew Cowan will return to the Diocese of Gaylord as Administrator for St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Bellaire and St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Mancelona. This was posted today on the Diocese of Gaylord website.
In 2018, Fr. Cowan accused Fr. Stilwell of sexual harassment. This whistleblower action led to his temporary banishment and clerical house arrest to his parent’s home. Eventually, Fr. Cowan’s full priestly faculties were restored – in another diocese (Saline, Kansas). Fr. Cowan was officially transferred there for a three year tour. Some speculate this was a consolation prize for the then Diocese of Gaylord Bishop Steven Raica. These actions are often done to innocent whistleblowers to warn other potential whistleblowers of the consequences for their actions. This scandal was followed by Bishop Raica’s transfer to the Diocese of Birmingham, where his reputation followed him and led to the establishment of the Birmingham Diocesan Watch.
In a way, the happy ending to over a year of persecution for Fr. Cowan ended when the Vatican ruled to have his priesthood restored. But for many in the Diocese of Gaylord, his return will be the true closing of the book on a set of events that never needed to occur. Perhaps the best lesson learned is to abandon one’s will, desires, and expectations to Divine Providence.
Although the credit clearly goes to the Holy Spirit, we firmly believe that Gaylord Diocesan Watch played an important role in keeping Fr. Cowan’s vocation alive. It was the diocesan injustice surrounding his case that inspired this apostolate. Since then, Gaylord Diocesan Watch has continued to assist the Bishop, clergy, and faithful of the Diocese of Gaylord with honest and sincere concern for the welfare of the Diocese. We plan to continue this important mission of the apostolate.