Retired Priest Removed from Catholic Ministry

By Eric English
Bay City Times [Michigan]
March 2, 2007

A retired Roman Catholic priest who served in Bay City and Tawas City has been removed from the ministry following sexual misconduct allegations.

The former Rev. Raymond J. Pilarski, 79, has denied wrongdoing, according to a prepared statement from the Diocese of Gaylord.

But Bishop Patrick R. Cooney announced Feb. 22 that his decision to remove Pilarski was upheld by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome.

Pilarski, who retired in 1998, is accused of sexual misconduct during the mid-1970s. According to the diocese's press release, Pilarski was serving as a priest at

St. Mary Parish in Alpena at the time.

Candace Neff, a spokeswoman for the Gaylord Diocese, said the allegations against Pilarski were turned over to the Alpena County Prosecutor's Office for review.

Alpena County Prosecutor Dennis Grenkowicz said earlier this week that two woman accused Pilarski of inappropriately touching them. One was age 13 and the other 22 at the time of the alleged incidents in the 1970s, he said.

Grenkowicz said neither woman filed a police complaint in the matter and the six-year statute of limitations has expired. As a result, he said he does not plan to charge Pilarski with criminal wrongdoing.

Pilarski was ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Saginaw in 1955 and was assigned to St. Stanislaus Parish in Bay City.

He also served as priest for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Tawas City from 1968 to 1973 and became a member of the newly formed Gaylord Diocese in 1971.

Other church assignments included those in Cheboygan County, Hillman and Atlanta, Mich., according to the diocese statement.

Cooney's decision to remove Pilarski from the ministry means Pilarski may not perform any public action as a priest, he his prohibited from wearing clerical garb and he may not present himself as a priest.

Pilarski has not performed any functions for the diocese since 2005.

"There really are no words which can fully express my sorrow to victims of any kind of abuse," Cooney said in a prepared statement.

The Diocese of Gaylord continues to encourage victims of child abuse or neglect to report the matter. If a sexual misconduct allegation involves a member of the Gaylord Diocese, people are asked to contact Neff by calling (989) 705-3534.

- Eric English covers regional news for The Times. He can be reached at 1-800-727-7661 or by e-mail at


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