The Saginaw, Michigan bishop has removed a priest from his parish after he blamed the priest for causing “division” by extolling and implementing traditional Catholic liturgical practices, according to several sources. Bishop Walter Hurley, 81, the apostolic administrator of Saginaw, removed Father Edwin C. Dwyer on January 29 from Our Lady of Peace parish in Bay City, MI.
In the homily for the first Sunday in Advent, 2018, Father Dwyer explained how his parish and diocese had a diminishing attendance, especially among young people. He laid out his solution: a return tradition.
Believe it or not, tradition works. So called “old ways” are quite popular among younger Catholics. Smells, bells, classic hymns, chant, prolonged silence, and, hold on for this one, LATIN are all largely embraced by the younger generations of the Church. Furthermore, when younger non-Catholics experience these traditions they are struck by how different they are from everything else they experience in a noisy, secular culture. These “old ways” are beautiful to them, and beauty is a great place to introduce young folks to Jesus Christ.
The priest was removed from his position at the end of January for wanting to encourage attendance, not by bringing in rock bands, liturgical dancers, or laser light shows, but by bringing back what has worked for millennia in holy liturgy.
Dwyer said, “we are going to make Sunday beautiful at Our Lady of Peace.” That was his crime.
According to UCatholic, Dwyer’s “…minor and gradual changes were met with resistance by a small portion of entrenched parishioners at Our Lady of Peace, but met with joy and hope by younger members of the parish. The vocal minority forced a ‘town hall’ parish meeting on Jan. 21 to complain, and the meeting was marked by acrimonious statements, sometimes becoming blatantly disrespectful, from a handful of discordant and disrespectful, mostly baby-boomer generation parishioners.”
Since then, Bishop Hurley has responded with a sort of concession:
It is clear to me that there is a need to make available on a regular basis to the people of the diocese in a central location a more traditional celebration of the Liturgy (greater use of Latin and practices that have often been identified with traditional forms of the liturgy). It is not a matter of reversing the challenges and opportunities made possible by the Second Vatican Council. Traditional practices can enrich our liturgies. It may be useful to provide a central location that embodies traditional practices in a way beyond what many parishes find acceptable and enriching in their prayer life. The challenge is always to find the balance. This is an issue I hope to address without delay.