Prayer methods called into question, priest stepping down - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Prayer methods called into question, priest stepping down

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A Mt. Carmel priest who has been at his parish for nearly 20 years is leaving after pressure from the bishop to change his preaching methods.

Father Bill Rowe of St. Mary's Catholic Church announced to his congregation of his intent to resign come June after coming under fire for the way he words his prayers during mass.

The Catholic Church introduced a new missal translation back in December, dictating the bible readings and prayers for each worship service.

Father Rowe says because he didn't follow the prayers word for word, he found himself in trouble with the Catholic Church.

Preaching from the pulpit he's held for 18 years, Rowe explains to his congregation the events leading to his resignation. He says, he refuses to do things differently.

"I just can't honestly pray with the people that way," Rowe said.

Rowe says Bishop Edward Braxton has asked him to follow the missal word for word.

Rowe says his style is to modify the listed prayers to match with the rest of the service.

"To me, it seems a little dishonest to be talking and singing about one thing, and then we have a prayer that's about something else.  That doesn't match what we've been celebrating," Rowe said.

Some parishioners say they appreciate that.

"You hear 'what would Jesus do,' it's not what you're praying, it's what you're praying about. It's not the words," said parishioner Bonnie Keepes.

"It's very hard to be dictated to on what to say, it has to come from the heart," said Jaimie Banks.

Rowe says he offered his resignation back in October, but did not receive word until last Monday when the bishop wrote that he had accepted it.

Rowe says he feels sorry for what this will do to his congregation.

"I wish it didn't hurt them, but I didn't know what to do."

Parishioners say they're reaching out to the bishop, hoping he will change his mind. At Sunday's services, many members wrote letters and signed a petition to retain Father Rowe at St. Mary's.

"Currently on the petitions this morning, we've got about 300 signatures.  Overall, we're looking at about 1,000.  Online we have a thousand signatures," said Josh Evans. 

Parishioners say, if the Bishop's decision stands, it will be difficult to see Rowe leave.

Rowe will officially leave St. Mary's in June. He says he hopes he might continue church work in other positions.

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