The Diocese of Gaylord recently announced the end of the Catholic identity of a hospital in Tawas and the closure of Manistee Catholic Central schools. Flowery language, like lipstick on a pig, was used in an attempt to mitigate the obvious.

With regard to the hospital, Bishop Walsh wrote the following:

“I am grateful for the Ascension leadership team who worked to ensure, what we pray will be, a seamless transition of services to an organization who has made substantial commitments to current employees and a financial assistance policy similar to that of Ascension for those who struggle with economic poverty” and “Like health systems across the nation, Ascension Health has been impacted by the evolving nature of health care and pressures resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The transition of Ascension St. Joseph to MyMichigan Health is a part of a larger transaction involving Ascension facilities in Michigan.”

What impact? What is meant by “evolving nature of health care and pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic”? Hospitals were the recipients of billions of dollars nationwide during the scare-demic of COVID-19.

The closure of Manistee Catholic Central schools has caused some to question the pressure put by the Diocese on those who desired to keep the school system open. The Diocesan website announcement stated the following:

“On March 21, 2024, Bishop Walsh shared that for the school to remain open $2 million would be needed to fund one year. An additional 18 days were provided to raise the needed funds.” $2 million is a lot of money to be solicited in less than a month!  In an attempt to address those who are upset by the closure, the announcement simply states that “let us make a special appeal to our better angels to guide us through the days, weeks and months ahead.”

What is meant by “better angels?”

But there is more to these episodes. A deeper and more significant problem underlies the abandonment of the public view of Catholicism as exemplified by these announcements. These events represent years of a continued, progressive, and at times purposeful retreat of clergy and parishioners from core Catholic beliefs and practice. Sadly, this is almost never addressed by Bishop Walsh and the clergy of the Diocese. One of the most important reasons for the development of the Catholic school system in the United States has been to promote true Christian formation in children. Is this not even more important now? The threats to children’s souls are more pervasive than ever before. What is the Church leadership doing? – they are in full retreat. Although Bishop Walsh obviously has had little to nothing to do with the demise of either Manistee Catholic Central or Ascension hospital, has the Diocese done everything possible to maintain and reverse this retreat? Does the Diocese even understand the scope and depth of the problems facing Catholics in the pews with regard to Catholic education and medical care? If parents are not sending their children to Catholic schools in droves (as should be done if the schools were havens of sanity and sanctity), has the Diocese reached out to those parents? Why is the Diocese not reaching out to homeschoolers on a regular basis support and encourage what could be the future of decent Catholic education, especially when Catholic homeschooling continues to grow?  Does anyone in the Diocese even believe that the Church could grow rather than shrink?  Where is the hope? Does anyone in the leadership of the Diocese believe the Church can evangelize and grow?