Catholic Priest Disciplined for Being Catholic

It is very upsetting to read this news about a Michigan priest who was removed from his parish because he began to introduce elements of traditional worship.

Father Edwin Dwyer, a canon lawyer, was removed from his position Jan. 30 as parochial administrator of Our Lady of Peace parish in Bay City by Bishop Walter Hurley, who is serving as diocesan administrator for Saginaw after the sudden death of Bishop Joseph Cistone last October. The same day, Father Dwyer was also removed by Bishop Hurley from his position as chaplain for the Catholic community at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU).

Apparently Fr Dwyer introduced incense, suited up the altar servers in cassocks and surplices and put some candles on the altar. He also introduced a some elements of Latin and Gregorian chant. He did so with care, gradually and with catechesis–explaining what he was doing and why.

I think his treatment has been outrageous and wonder why more people are not up in arms about it.

Fr Dwyer was not forcing the extraordinary form of the Mass on his people. He has said clearly that is not his intention. Instead he is attempting to celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass in a reverent way.

What is most outrageous about this is Fr Dwyer was not introducing these elements on a personal whim or imposing his own taste on the people, but following the clear instructions and guidelines of the Second Vatican Council which call for Latin to be honored and for Gregorian chant to take pride of place in the liturgy. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal clearly calls for incense to be used.

So here we have a priest being hounded for following the instructions of his church faithfully while thousands of other priests celebrate the Novus Ordo with a range of ridiculous novelties which are their own inventions, according to their own misguided intentions and ordered by the spirit of the age–turning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into a Happy Meal.

Is it possible that Bishop Hurley (who one assumes is a fan of the Second Vatican Council) is ignorant of the actual documents of the council that call for Latin in the liturgy, Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony, pipe organs, incense and a solemn reverence to be cultivated?

When are Catholics in this country going to wake up and realize that traditional Catholic worship is not a thing of the past, nor is it the thing of the future. It is the thing of forever. It helps us transcend the fashions of every passing age and culture.

But there is more to it than being proper about liturgy. This event in Michigan is even more ominous in what it shows us about the present state of the relationship between bishops and their clergy.

This is not easy for me to say, but every priest knows of cases where his fellow priest has been thrown under the bus by the bishop. It may have been over alleged sex abuse or it may have been over personal problems or parish discipline, but trust between the bishops and their priests feels like it is at an all time low.

In the present state of crisis bishops are surrounded by public relations experts, lawyers, insurance people and financial experts. They’re feeling besieged and they’re circling the wagons. That’s understandable,

The Bishop of Covington complained that he “was bullied” into condemning the boys from Covington Catholic. I’m sure he was. He was probably bullied by his cadre of insurance men, PR experts and lawyers. Had he listened more to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, he might have made a different decision.

In the case of Fr Dwyer it appears that the bishop was bullied by people in the parish (who it is claimed are hefty donors).

Sure a bishop must field all the letters of complaint he gets from people, and he should give them due weight, but must also support his priests because when he undermines their ministry and their authority in the parish his own authority is eroded.

It sounds to me like Fr Dwyer was being a good, smart, careful and considerate Catholic priest….

…and he’s the one who is thrown under the bus?

No wonder so many priests who are working hard in parishes on the front line feel like they are on our own.

2019-02-08T09:03:58+00:00February 8th, 2019|Categories: Blog|6 Comments


  1. KYLE BARRIGER February 8, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for bringing this news to the attention of more people. I’m from the area originally and have watched how the parish has grown and attracted young families through his strong homilies and bringing a small amount of these traditional elements. It’s the parish I went to when visiting my parents and in-laws over Christmas this year. one correction though, he didnt even implement cossacks and surplices for the servers, they were just albs where before they had nothing. I’ve heard that the “liturgical experts” of the diocese have forbidden cossacks and surplices for servers. wasn’t sure you could do that

  2. Darren Szwajkowski February 8, 2019 at 10:49 am

    If I went to his Parish, I would be in an uproar and going to the Bishop’s office.

    Alas, I’m not there and won’t be going but internally, I’m in an uproar. I’ve been praying.

    In reading about Bella Dodd, we have men who have become Bishops under false pretentions. They have taken oaths that they had absolutely no intention in keeping. I understand about human nature and can understand when one gives in to temptation after making an honest oath. But there was no honesty here. I’m praying for their conversion.

    The office of bishops needs to be cleaned up. The house needs to get in order.

    Praying and fasting as much as I can. And I can probably always do more.

  3. John February 8, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and that was sanctioned by bishops. St. Padre Pio was also disciplined. It takes time but wrongs such as these are corrected.

  4. Laurence McClelland February 8, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    Ah, but you missed the rest of the story, Father Dwyer’s final Mass on February 9th was packed, standing room only, and the Catholic students at Saginaw Valley State University where he was also a Chaplain were outraged. So in effect the all knowing Bishop simply further coalesced and motivated the local Catholics and we still wonder about the power of the Holy Spirit? Bishop Hurley please next time you are faced with a recalcitrant Priest have him placed in stocks and publicly flogged, that will be a warning heeded by these disruptive traditionalists.

  5. James Stagg February 9, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    So very sad to see this done to a respected priest.

    From many comments, he would be WELCOME at many parishes that are suffering from the disrespect shown to the Mass by priest and bishop alike.

    We pray for all, but we ask the Blessed Mother for special prayers for this special priest.

  6. Richard Burke February 10, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    Why, given the current state of a scandalous church, would a Bishop do what he did. Traditional elements in the mass help bring about a sense of holiness. Something that’s desperately needed.

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