Fr Bill Rowe
On Sunday, parishioners at St Mary's parish in Mount Carmel, Illinois, were officially informed that the local diocese is removing their pastor of 18 years, because he improvised some prayers at Mass.
Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville Diocese sent a letter on Friday to Fr William Rowe informing him of the decision. Fr Trevor Murray, 36, has been asked leave his parishes in West Frankfort and Royalton, Illinois, and take over as parish priest of St Mary's on 10 July.
The letter from Bishop Braxton was read at Sunday Masses. The Bishop wrote: "I am deeply aware that you, your parishioners and your friends are saddened by this change in your assignment. I am saddened as well. In your years at St Mary Parish, you have (surely) touched many hearts."
Bishop Braxton went on: "Throughout our many conversations, it has been my hope that this action would not be necessary. However, the long, winding road down which we traveled never led to the open door of complete acceptance and obedience to the disciplines and doctrines of the Catholic Church."
Fr Rowe, who is 72, said he was going to make another appeal to the Bishop today (Monday) and if this is rejected he will take his appeal to Rome.
Fr Rowe says he got into the habit of adding a few words to prayers in the Mass and other services over the years, in order to make the liturgy more meaningful.
The introduction of the new translation of the Missal, he said, made it even more difficult to stick to every word proscribed by the Vatican. Fr Rowe said: "I just found, especially with the new translation, that it doesn't match what I'm talking about. The new wording is so awkward, and people don't understand it."
"I have heard that there have been a few priests that do what I do ... but I haven't heard of anyone being removed," he said. "This is new ground I guess."
Earlier this year, parishioners protested outside of St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Belleville against plans to remove Rowe.
They also started a petition which has attracted more than 1,500 signatures: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/keep-father-bill-as-priest-of-st-marys-church/
Source: STL Today/ICN