- Candace Neff Director
News & Press Releases
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Statement Regarding Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka
Today’s verdict in the matter of the People of the State of Michigan vs. Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka brings to a conclusion the criminal case in the civil courts. Rev. Obwaka was found not guilty of both charges against him by a jury in the 53rd Circuit Court in Rogers City in accordance with our system of justice. We are grateful to civil authorities for their professionalism and dedication in carrying out that process.
When the allegations first came forward, the protocols for dealing with such matters within the Church were initiated and subsequently suspended while the case moved through the civil court. That process will now be resumed in an effort to address any ecclesial issues which may exist. Rev. Obwaka, a priest of the Diocese of Gaylord, will remain on administrative leave from his priestly assignments while that process continues.
For the immediate future, Rev. Joseph Muszkiewicz will continue as temporary administrator for St. Ignatius parish and, in collaboration with parish staff and leadership, will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the parish. Rev. James Fitzpatrick will continue serving as Sacramental Minister.
“These past months have been extremely painful and difficult for everyone involved,” said Candace Neff, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Gaylord. “While today’s verdict begins the path toward closure, healing will take time, patience and grace. The diocese will be doing all we can to help facilitate that.”
“This has indeed been a very sad time in our history,” said Bishop Steven J. Raica. “Yet, even in times of tribulation, we know we do not walk alone. Christ walks with us. I am so thankful for the expressions of support and for the many prayers that have been offered for our priests, parishes and the diocese during this time. I ask for continued prayers for everyone involved as we move forward and, together, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.”
The Diocese of Gaylord has protocols in place to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct and encourages anyone who has been a victim of abuse by clergy or church leader, recently or even if it is in the distant past, to report the matter to civil authorities or to the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator Larry LaCross at 989.705.9010.