Obwaka to remain on administrative leave

Following Thursday’s not guilty verdict in the charges against Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka, the Diocese of Gaylord issued a statement saying Obwaka will remain on will remain on administrative leave from his priestly assignments while the diocese addresses any ecclesial issues that may exist.

“These past months have been extremely painful and difficult for everyone involved,” Candace Neff, director of communications for the Diocese of Gaylord, stated in a press release. “While (Thursday’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.”

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.

“This has indeed been a very sad time in our history,” Bishop Steven J. Raica said. “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 said it 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 705-9010.