Belleville bishop removes pastor for improvising prayers

Parishioners in Mount Carmel, Ill., learned Sunday that the Belleville Diocese has removed their pastor of 18 years for improvising prayers at Mass and has appointed a new priest.
Bishop Edward Braxton sent a letter on Friday to the Rev. William Rowe informing him of his removal as pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The Rev. Trevor Murry will leave his parishes in West Frankfort and Royalton, Ill., and replace Rowe beginning July 10.
For decades, Rowe has deviated from some of the language of the liturgy’s prayers to, in his view, better convey the point of his sermons. Bishops have traditionally looked past an individual priest’s extemporizing; but in December, the Vatican mandated that Catholics in every English-speaking country adopt a new translation of the Roman Missal — the book of prayers, chants and responses used during Mass.
While this made sticking to the prayers more important, it made it even harder to do, Rowe said. “I just found, especially with the new translation, that it doesn’t match what I’m talking about,” he said. “The new wording is so awkward, and people don’t understand it.”

For decades, Rowe has deviated from some of the language of the liturgy’s prayers to, in his view, better convey the point of his sermons.

Couldn’t he just have written his sermons to better convey the meanings of the prayers??? Talk about being full of himself!

I hope Father has enough quiet time that he is able to zoom out from the issue a bit and realize the message he sends to his congregation and to God when he does this.

In effect, it says “I am better qualified than anyone else to set the language of prayer in liturgy.”

Once one puts down the mirror of Narcissus, it’s not hard to see the role ego plays in such a decision.

“The new wording is so awkward, and people don’t understand it.”

Wow, way to call out your parishioners as a bunch of dummies.

obedience is better than sacrifice. the church can not grow if there is disunity

I know that the priests had more to learn with the changes with the new translations, and have had their stumbling blocks like the congregation with their responses. But I’m glad that the priests at the parishes I’ve been going to for Mass are following things even if they have to speak slower at times and keep looking at the Sacramentary more.

This has been going on for some time. That priest has been warned extensively and everyone was aware of what was going on. He had no intention of obeying his bishop. I think he does have a bit of an ego problem, but his ego is also being stoked by his loving (and in my opinon, misguided) congregation that seems to think he can do no wrong. Perhaps this is why some dioceses shift priests from parish to parish every so many years?

The issue of Fr. Rowe’s personal variations of the liturgy have been a topic of discussion for months, or years, depending upon whom you ask.

Back in February, it was announced that Bishop Braxton accepted Fr. Rowe’s offer to resign. It seemed to catch the priest by surprise.

Father Rowe said he did not hear from the bishop again until Feb. 1, when he received a letter dated Jan. 30 in which the bishop formally acknowledged his October letter and accepted his resignation, effective in June when clergy assignments are made.

Father Rowe told [Catholic News Service] he responded to the bishop with a letter Feb. 2 saying: “I had no desire to resign or retire from the active ministry. … My offer to resign seemed to be the best way to resolve the problem in a pastoral way.”

Father Rowe said he is not sure what he will do if he does leave Mount Carmel in June. He wanted to offer to help at other parishes but doesn’t think the bishop would approve. He said he also thought of offering to go to another diocese but would need a recommendation from Bishop Braxton to do that. He said he doesn’t see that happening either.

Please pray that Fr. Rowe does nothing rash and that he consider his situation in light of Pope Benedict’'s homily given during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday of this year.

I thought this story sounded familiar.

18 years seems a long time to for a priest to pastor a given parish.

I don’t necessarily think he’s calling them dummies because the number 1 complaint I now hear from parishioners is that the new translation is awkward and its sentence structure is confusing. And this parish is mainly people with Master’s degrees!

Don’t expect too many more cases like this. Fr Rowe is 72. He’s around retirement age (70-75). A bit easier to deal with for a bishop than had he been in his mid-40’s.

As much as I don’t like seeing the good priests go, I think when they leave a priest in the same place too long, the people tend to think of it as “Father So-and-so’s Church” instead of a Catholic Parish.


Moving around is good for the priests and good for the people.

My prayers are with this priest during these challenging days for him. There was a priest in our parrish that would occasionally change a phrase or two during the Mass and it was as if a red flag was raised at the altar. I am still struck by how wrong it was for the priest to not stick to the prayers.

Guess I will have to figure out what is so awkward when I get back to the States. :o

Good article relating to this topic that may shed some light:

Setting aside the important underlying theological issues, we can see deeply rooted psychological motives behind the American priests who “individualize” the Masses they celebrate, placing their “personal stamp” on the liturgy.

this isnt about problems with the new translation, this guy has been changing the words even before the new translation was concerned. I onced visited a church where the jesuit priest had his own consecration prayers i remember looking at the sign board again as i left the church just to make sure it was a catholic church. It was strange and i didnt recieve because he had the word play even with the epiclesis, i cant even remember if he said the words of consecration right, the irony is that the parishioner think he is the best.

He might be “the best” at other things, but what he was doing is wrong and entirely uneccessary.

Really? I think it does sound a little “awkward” because it’s not the way we talk in day to day life, but the old translation wasn’t, either. I’ve never really thought about it being confusing. I think they’re just not used to it yet.

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