SAGINAW UPDATE: Fr. Eddie Dwyer’s Final Sunday Mass at OLP Parish


Father Eddie Dwyer offered his final Sunday Mass today as pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan. His high-profile removal as both pastor of OLP, as well as that of chaplain for Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), by Bishop Walter Hurley has garnered a great deal of Catholic media attention and outrage among the faithful. That this highly unusual removal was handled by  an apostolic administrator for the bishop-less diocese only contributes to the controversy.

An announcement read before Mass this morning was also included in a public post at Fr. Dwyer’s Facebook page today:

I speak to you today in thanksgiving for the many blessings you have brought into my life these past 6 months. I also speak to you with a heavy heart.

On Wednesday, January 30th, His Excellency Bishop Walter Hurley, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Saginaw revoked my appointment as chaplain of Saginaw Valley State University. The reason given in his decree of revocation is the following:

I have found it opportune to appoint another priest, Reverend Steve Gavit, as chaplain of Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), effective today.

On the same day, Bishop Hurley also revoked my appointment as parochial administrator at Our Lady of Peace Parish, effective this coming February 8th.

It is very important for all of you to know that it was not due to any allegation of misconduct of any nature on my part that Bishop Hurley decided to revoke my appointments as chaplain of SVSU and as Parochial Administrator of Our Lady of Peace Parish. My appointments have been revoked, I am not being removed for any wrongdoing.

At the same time, out of complete respect for the ecclesiastical authority currently governing our Diocese, Bishop Hurley the Apostolic Administrator, I cannot comment on the decisions taken, nor on any private conversations held between His Excellency and me.

I have been assigned residence at Holy Family Parish in Saginaw, MI. None of my faculties as a priest have been suspended, or restricted. I will be awaiting a new assignment in the meantime.

Our time together was short, but I appreciated it dearly. This was a shock to me, and I’m sure it is to most of you. But Scripture teaches us “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20) I simply ask you to pray for me, my family, this parish, and His Excellency the apostolic administrator.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of Peace may the Good Lord bless and keep you all the days of your lives.


Fr. Edwin C. Dwyer, JCL

Just to remind readers again, the only charge levied against Fr. Dwyer, and the only reason cited by Bishop Hurley for his removal: parish “division” caused by his very modest efforts to increase reverence and beauty within one weekend Mass time at OLP Parish. As reported by UCatholic:

The “issues” Bishop Hurley references are the slow introduction of some traditional elements to only one of the three weekend Masses celebrated at Our Lady of Peace. These changes were not offering the Tridentine Liturgy, or even offering the Mass Ad Orientem. The changes included placing candles on the altar, the use of incense, the ringing of sanctus bells during the Consecration, and reducing the amount of extraordinary Eucharistic ministers.

These changes were being instituted by Father Dwyer in response to the dire and crushing report released in October of 2018 that showed the across the Diocese of Saginaw, Mass attendance had cratered since 2005, dropping a shocking and precipitous 45%.

These 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.

Indeed, the very minimal and modest efforts by Fr. Dwyer to return some reverence and traditional elements to the liturgy were on display at his final Sunday Mass as pastor. From the use of incense and the final blessing in Latin, to a couple traditional Latin chants & hymns during communion (such as Panis Angelicus), the rest of the Mass was, as one Catholic in attendance noted, a “pretty standard” Novus Ordo, including guitar and piano.


At one point during his homily the overflow crowd broke into applause for their pastor, who in turn reminded them of their mutual admiration for Cardinal Ratzinger who spoke against applause breaking out during the Mass.

Fr. Dwyer’s homily was brief and to the point. He referenced his Advent homily that had gone viral, in which he had laid out his goals, one of which was to “fill the church with crying babies.” Fr. Dwyer said he had envisioned this as goal of 3-6 years out, and was joyfully surprised that it had happened sooner than expected, referencing the packed church today.


Father also took a few moments speaking about truth, and how no matter what, we must speak the truth and do what is right. He reminded the faithful present that Jesus is THE way, truth and life, not simply A way, truth and life.

One final point, and it relates directly to Fr. Dwyer’s above statement. I have seen some online arguing that Fr. Dwyer was removed because of his disobedience, since the apostolic administrator had taken the (unusual) step of asking a pastor to take a leave of absence for no apparent reason. Those familiar with both the history of the Saginaw diocese, as well as Bishop Hurley, understand the injustice of this entire episode.

But let’s be clear about this: a Catholic priest never demonstrates disobedience by simply being obedient to his priestly duties. A bishop cannot demand a priest to remove Latin from the celebration of the Mass. Nor is the implementation of the proper use (as opposed to the excessive use) of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at Mass a punishable offense. Further, the liturgical use of incense is a valid component of the Rite and is not something warranting discipline from a bishop.

To make an analogy, no priest is guilty of disobedience if he refuses a bishop’s “order” to avoid controversial topics in his homilies. If a new pastor were to irritate long time parishioners by preaching against contraception, abortion, or any other sins which endanger the souls in his care, no bishop should ever tell him to stop simply because a few boomers are triggered by the truth. The pastor’s obligation to his flock supersedes any unjust request by a bishop to forego this priestly responsibility.

At this time let us honor Fr. Dwyer’s request: pray for him, for his family, for the parish, and (yes) even for the apostolic administrator of Saginaw. But let us also pray for justice and healing.

David M. Williams of Michigan contributed extensively to the writing of this post, as well as providing the photos from today’s Mass.


Posted on February 3, 2019, in liturgy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. It’s my guess that we are not privy to some particular details that played a part in this decision by the Bishop. A priest doesn’t get removed simply because he decides to use incense at one of his weekend masses. Clearly Father’s efforts were causing conflict in the parish for whatever reason, and I’m wondering if he pushed back at the Bishop’s requests?

    • Sandra obviously you don’t know how the diocese of Saginaw operates because yes good holy priests do “simply get removed” from our diocese or sent far away.

      • You are right – I know nothing of that diocese. My own parish offers both the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo, which coexist relatively peacefully. I’ve just learned the hard way not to take any news report at face value these days, no matter how tempting.

      • Yes they do Amen.

    • Christine Arndt

      I live in the Rockford Diocese in Illinois. My bishop sent a letter to all Diocese priests that they CSN NOT celebrate the Tridentine Mas without his permission. This is against Pope Benedict’s edict.

      I have to travel 2 hours one way to attend a Tridentine Mass by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest church.

      Priests in my town are in fear of the bishop.

      This happens all over the US.

      You need to do more research before you post.

      Check out,, to start.

  2. I’m sorry for you Father Dwyer. I will pray for you. Thank you for giving some joy to your young parishoners with incense, candles, less ministers, and, ringing of the Sanctus bells during the Consecration. I think that Jesus, whom you held in your hands at that moment, was overjoyed also. This is such a sad story and I am afraid it is just the beginning of the newest phase.

  3. Sandra, if you connect a few dots and do a little research, you’ll see that the bishop received a large “donation” from a Foundation at SVSU at the same time Fr. Eddie was relieved of his duties at SVSU (and the parish). I’d say that’s pretty interesting timing. I think Fr. Eddie ruffled a few liberal feathers and the bishop was paid to get rid of him. should look into the possible connection.

    • I am a student at SVSU. What Foundation? Do you have a link or reference to this by chance? Very upset and looking for answers.

      • I’m sorry, I spoke out of turn. I should never insinuate something without having facts. I was upset to hear about Fr. Eddie and popped off at the mouth. Again, I’m sorry.

    • Marianne, would be nice if you did a little research before you pop off at the mouth in the future.

  4. It seems that some Bishops are threatened by these young priests that are attempting to bring old traditions back and aren’t afraid to preach the truth. I’ve seen some great priests sent to obscure remote locations for holding to tradition or wanting to have a Latin Mass. Mandatory retirement may be a blessing in some cases.

    • Yes…God has a “mandatory retirement” age as well, he just doesn’t tell us in advance. Either plan sounds good in this case, His will be done.

  5. I see no kneelers. The GIRM doesn’t make kneeling optional just because a church doesn’t have them. The priest should instruct the parishioners to kneel as required.

    Perhaps a few months of kneeling on the indoor/outdoor carpet might convince people that the people who removed them were idiots.

    • I think I was wrong. It appears that the church does have pews and probably kneelers. The photo with metal chairs may have been the parish meeting spoken about in the article in a place other than the church.

      • The photo with the metal chairs is the gathering space in Our Lady of Peace Church, and it is used for over flow. This was Fr. Eddie’s last Mass and the pictures show the many parishioners who came to show their support for our priest.

    • Johnfkennedy63, the chairs you saw were in the Narthex during his last Mass at OLP, I believe

  6. So sorry to hear of this vindictive treatment of a good young priest who was obviously touching the hearts of many young people. It embarrasses me when I hear of stodgy old ‘fixtures’ in parishes that cannot tolerate the re-introduction of reverence of Our Lord and the Sacrifice of Mass. I am old and I thank God for the FSSP priests – whose celebrations I travel long distance to attend on Sundays. When I attend the nearby N.O. during the week it feels like it is a different religion. Some good priests but a modern community. Young educated people love the traditional celebrations and come in growing numbers whereas the mod church has been shrinking rapidly. By the way: Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers….are only supposed to be used when the community is too big for the priest (and Deacon) to administer to within a reasonable time. They are not supposed to be flocking around in numbers. Even at my local modern church more people are receiving the Most Holy Sacrament on their tongue, not in their hands – after shaking hands all around for ‘peace’!. One has to wonder why the ‘washing of the hands’ by the priest is still even included in the Mass !?! I hope Fr. Dwyer finds a welcoming parish where he does not have to ‘shake off the dust from his shoes’ as he is having to do in Saginaw. The biggest problem in the Church today is our bishops. Our Lady prophesied that too.

  7. In these remarkable times we find within our Holy Catholic Church extreme examples of both good and evil, piety and impiety. Let us keep the Faith. God will see us through.

  8. Years ago, Father Steve Gavit expressed to me that he was a proud progressive.I also recall he wrote a letter to a newspaper where he referred to parishioners as pesky flies and got rebuked by Bishop Carlson. I am not sure if the years have changed him, but Catholics beware!

  9. Wow , shortage of Priests and you get rid of him ? Please send Fr Eddy to the closed St Hedwigs Parish , he would be welcomed with open arms .

  10. This article was very well written, I belong to the church and was very, very upset to see our pastor taken away from us! There was no town hall meeting!! I was never asked my opinion,! I resent the fact that a choice few people can make a devestating decision that effects the whole church! I would like those people to meet with all the church members and give us reasons why this decision was made !

    • My thoughts exactly!! We have a shortage of Priests and a very good Priest is taken away. He thought the church was divided before? I can see all those who liked Fr. Dwyer and what he was trying to do for the church leave.

  11. I will be curious to see if Fr. Eddie’s ascence from this parish cause a reduction in young people attendance and desire to altar server. Would you please let me know as I am trying to find ways to get young people back into the Church and I know good priest like Fr. Eddie has been doing just that. My personal information is below.

  12. I agree that the removal of this good priest is more than just sad. I take issue, however, with the back-handed slap at “boomers”. I am a boomer and in, my experience, my generation is the one that most values the traditions of the Church. We were Catholic before VII and we’ve seen the disasterous effect of the implementation of that Council. To imply that us “boomers” resent returning to the traditional ways of the Church is simply wrong.

  13. I completely agree with you Mr. Nagle!

  14. Huzzah! For Mr. Williams, his correct and canonical assessment beginning with the paragraph ‘ One final point’ is so well stated and scripturally and traditionally correct. Be wary though Mr. Willuamd, as the Hierarchs Overlord Hurley may seek your ecclesiastical career, and life, Beware, and God send His Angels to protect yourself and family. One final thought, this dismissal is clear cut, Fr. Edward was exampling the traditions of our Church to the young, and that combined with the vocal minority would not fly, we have to indoctrinate the young into the mediocrity of the Novus Ordo, and at the same time insult their sensibilities by forcing the pablum of NO as if they, as young folks, are not capable of making a choice for beauty and history versus mediocrity.

  15. Fr. Eddie is a wonderful priest! He is of the people, for the people and amongst the people! A rarity!

  16. I lived in Grand Rapids when +Hurley was a Bishop there and, given things he allowed to transpire on the campus of the “Catholic” college in that city, I’m not surprise he’s acting like this now. He cares about PR and little more, but in that regard he is sadly little different from most Bishops in this country.

  17. Well, the focus is on the departure of Fr Dwyer, God bless him, but this heavy-handed action is a bad omen of who is going to be appointed the next Bishop of Saginaw. Given the recent appointments of gay priests and bishops surrounding PF, we’re undoubtedly going to get a real barn-burner bishop. “This” is not over by any means, the story is not over by any means.

    There is at least one active priest in the diocese who has been accused of being an active homosexual and his elevation to the episcopacy would bring division within the entire diocese, not just one parish. And, there’s plenty of those kind of priests all over the place. There is much to fear about the next appointment.

  18. Robert Puszykowski

    I feel our new bishop should have been the one to make this decision.There are always people in parishes who are in the minority and don’t like what’s going on. I feel the Bishop Hurley should have sided with the majority of the people. A few of us from the charismatic renewal met with Father Eddie and wanted to help him with his ministry at Saginaw valley and he welcomed us to use our expertise in apologetics. he shared with us the many students who were coming to mass and also had a group who got together during the week to say the rosary. The ministry there seem to be growing. I was shocked when I heard the story.

  19. My wife and I have been members of a church in the Old Catholic Tradition for the past few years. We were both raised in the Roman Catholic Church but felt increasingly disconnected in recent times. Our pastor (who is also our bishop) made the decision last year to make the transition to the Tridentine Latin Mass. Having never prayed the Latin Mass, it was a learning curve at first. It has, however, given us a whole new appreciation of Christian tradition and renewal of our faith. We have found the Latin Mass to be a beautiful and mystical expression of our love for God and our desire to serve Him in daily life. We are truly blessed to have found such a place in our relatively small town, and I can’t imagine not having it there.

    This is a sad story indeed, but perhaps the silver lining in this dark cloud is the awareness of real Church traditions and the increasing discussion of offering the Tridentine Mass as an option to those who seek a return to traditions that have been progressively abandoned by the leadership of the modern church. I don’t understand how implementing just a few elements of Traditional Catholic worship at a single scheduled Mass can trigger such an upset. My wife and I are two baby-boomers who cherish the beauty of the Latin Mass. The article indicates that other masses in the parish remained unchanged, giving parishoners the option to attend a Norvus Ordo Mass if they so wished. Father Dwyer was certainly not pushing these changes down people’s throats, but merely offering an alternative for those who seek to be closer to the roots of Traditional Catholicism. I don’t presume to know what Bishop Hurley is thinking, but if his intent was to “put the matter to rest”, the result has been anything but!

  20. We would LOVE to have Fr. Eddie back in the UP.

  21. Scott M Stanley

    My wife and I are cradle Catholics and are 59 years old. Both of us have attended Catholic elementary schools, high schools and in my case, St. John’s University in Queens, NY. We’ve been married for 33 years and have been blessed with four wonderful children, all adults now. We’ve attended Mass regularly over all of this time, although due to my 28 years of active duty in the US Navy, sadly not always together. We’ve always been active in our parishes – Sunday school teachers, Parish council members and RCIA mostly. Our oldest daughter is a FOCUS missionary, going on 6 years.

    We recently moved to San Antonio and have joined a Catholic parish that practices many of the same traditions endorsed by Fr. Dwyer. We can honestly say that this parish, chartered by the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, provides both of us with a deeper sense of closeness to the Liturgy and the Eucharist than any of the post-Vatican II parishes we’ve ever been members of since both of our formative years. The reintroduction of incense, Gregorian chants, Latin, facing the Tabernacle — it’s such a richer, reverent and more humbling experience than we’ve known after 45 years of regularly attending Mass.

    Good for you, Fr. Dwyer. Thank you for trying to make the Holy Trinity the center and focus of the Mass and not the peripheral trappings that are so common in many parishes across the country every day and especially on Sundays across the country today.

  22. I live in California and cherish any small return to tradition that is used in our mass. I grew up in the church pre vatican II and Latin was no strange language to me. Bells, incense, beautiful music, it was all there. Assuming Father Dwyer did not commit a terrible transgression during the mass, I respectfully request re-assigning him to one of our parishes. I will also pray in lieu of sending him West, that he be lovingly reinstated to Our Lady of Peace.

  23. Maryellen Wegenet

    I am sadden to hear of Father Eddie Dwyers removal from his parish. In a time to which we as Catholic Christians are in desperate need for priest who continue to pastor their parish families with solid pastoral care and to bring genuine Worship to the beauty of our Holy Mass. To ignite our youth in truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith. A true shepherd.
    Once again, the politics of the liberal filter into the foolishness of the Higher Archy. Bishop Hurley is one of many that need to examine their place and position. They are not true Shepherds. Only in cloak, not in Spirit. Sad day for the parishioners to have lost Father Eddie Dwyer as their Pastor.
    Pray. Absolutely. This is an attrosity!! How foolish.

  24. Sad state of affairs. I’d hate to be one of these parishioners that had a hand in ousting this priest. What will they say to Jesus??? Praying for their souls..

  25. Keep in mind . This is a diocese that spent millions from one man’s generous contribution,,”I’m told” restoring the Cathedral, yet they forgot to put a confessional in the church. It has been used for storing mop buckets and cleaning supplies for 20 years or more. One can conveniently walk across the parking lot to the nuns chapel and get a confession when scheduled. No one lives in rectory and chooses to live on gated golf coarse community. It is not crime ridden area as conceived. There’s a hospital adjacent to Cathedral.

  26. This is just atrocious. I’m glad for all the
    Support shown for Dr. Dwyer. My prayer is that he and all who followed him into
    Promoting and celebrating a more conservative Mass will wake up and realize that the whole church is in turmoil
    And chaos because of the liberal agenda.
    That is what results when it embraces
    Modernism (reducing the Catholic faith
    As a fairytale). I’m very fortunate to have
    A parish which is orthodox in faith and practice and celebrates the traditional
    Latin Mass and sacraments (extraordinary form) and solely that. We
    Have wonderful priests who serve the parish. They are dedicated along with the
    Parishioners (alter boys, helpers of all needs, a wonderful choir with knowledge
    Of Gregorian chant propers and ordinary of the Mass e.i. – introits, psalm chant
    between the readings, etc. And the kyrie,
    Gloria, creed, sanctus, Agnus Dei as well
    As choral pieces and polyphony from renown authors. ) Im fortunate to belong
    to it and not have to travel vast distances.
    We stand for something because we believe in absolute truth taught by our Lord Jesus. The old Mass expresses these truths as reflected in the readings;
    The spirituality of living active faith, hope
    And charity along with the celebration
    deepens our awareness. The music, arts,
    architecture, vestments help us to focus
    On the other world which of course leads us to advance the kingdom of God in this
    world. The novus or do reverses this. We
    Witness bad liturgies, watered down faith,
    Abuse which led to rebellion and chaos.
    Churches that look like bars along with
    bar music And worse. Mark my word, I’m
    not denying that no one can be saved or
    condemned to hell because he or she belongs to a n.o. parish. I believe there are good priests bishops, and cardinals in
    them. All I can say is that I have the real
    thing. I pray that action will be taken to
    rectify this wrong and consider
    banding together and form a
    Traditional parish with the extra-ordinary
    Form of Mass and sacraments.
    If need be have a conservative
    No bus Or do in addition to the
    Old rite. God bless you and
    Father Dwyer. I hope he considers
    this also.

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