Priest Removed, Accused of Abuse

February 23, 2007

Gaylord — A retired priest was permanently removed from ministry because of decades-old sexual misconduct accusations, said Bishop Patrick R. Cooney of the Diocese of Gaylord.

The Rev. Raymond J. Pilarski, 79, retired in 1998 after serving at various northern Michigan parishes, including both St. Augustine in Hillman and Jesus the Good Shepherd in Atlanta since 1983, as well as parishes in Alpena, Tawas City, Wilmot and Bay City.

Pilarski denied the accusations, but Cooney's decision to remove the priest was confirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

The incidents allegedly occurred during the mid-1970s, when church records show Pilarski was assigned to St. Mary in Alpena.

"I wish we could undo history, but we can't. What we can do is continue efforts to reach out with compassion, remain committed to assist in the healing process of those who have been harmed, and work hard to seek ways to prevent these things from happening to anyone in the future," Cooney said.

Pilarski may not perform any public ministry, wear clerical garb, nor present himself publicly as a priest.

Pilarski was first ordained for the Diocese of Saginaw in 1955 and then incardinated into the Diocese of Gaylord in 1971 when it was formed.

Church officials encourage victims of sexual abuse involving a clergy member, even if it was in the past, to contact Candace Neff at the Diocese of Gaylord at (800) 727-5147, ext. 3534, or (989) 705-3534.


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