Father Bill to end hugging practice

A time-honored tradition has been put to an end at a local church. The Rev. William Langlois of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Grand Haven recently announced that he would no longer be giving hugs to children during Mass.
R.J. Wolcott
May 24, 2012


While never accused of any wrongdoing, Langlois said he decided that it was no longer appropriate.

The decision has left many in the community wondering what prompted it.

Ed Carey, the chancellor of the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese, said that they recommended that the hugging practice be stopped. The decision was made because of several letters and phone calls placed to the diocese over a number of years regarding the "appearance" of the practice, and not because of any allegations of inappropriate touching, Carey said.

“We live in an unfortunate time in our society where certain practices we are used to must be examined,” Carey said.

Carey also said that hugging during Mass has no liturgy to back it up, and instead was just something Langlois practiced in the St. Patrick's/St. Anthony's parish.
Carey said he's explained the situation to a number of parish members that asked about it.

Langlois said he has received one letter regarding the matter, and decided to make the change as a result of it. 

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


No One Special

We were actually at one of the church services Sunday when Father Bill
announced this change in regards to giving the kids a hug during Mass.
For outsiders, it should be explained that during the offertory, most all of the children (toddlers through teens) of the church traditionally would come down from the balcony and out of the pews in
an effort to make their way in front of the alter to Father Bill for what, in my observed opinion, was a prayerful hug from our very loving pastor. The children have always been so drawn to him...to his Christ-like love for them. As he would hug them in the presence of hundreds of parents
and onlookers, you could see him mumble prayers over the children and speak blessings
over their lives. This tradition has been one of our favorite and enjoyable moments of our church service. While I completely understand Father Bill's decision, I told my spouse as we left church, that Satan received another tally mark with this decision. I say that because Satan's evil plan is, in part, to divide and isolate. Children need love, they need guidance, and they enjoy and need affection. Our society has come to a place where people can no longer give a hug without being accused of some twisted motive or being fearful that the hug will be misunderstood. We're no longer lovingly touching each other due to fear, children are no longer being affirmed with physical affection....due to fear. I express my gratitude to Father Bill for all that he has done and continues to do for our church families and community. We love you dearly, Father Bill, and want you to know that, although we regret your decision, we sadly understand and support you completely as you attempt to make changes that line up with the expectations of today's twisted society.


When one reads the circumstances that these hugs are being given, one has to questions what in heck is wrong with people! I heard that it was a person visiting the church that wrote the letter to the powers that be, and they should go somewhere else if they are uncomfortable with a long standing or "hugging" tradition. Fr. Bill is an awesome priest and one that is admired and respected by many all over the community, Catholic or not. I hope that all religious leaders of ALL denominations stand up and protest this pressure placed on him as a result of a FEW outsiders. I heard that there is a petition online, if you can find it, please stand with those who love Fr. Bill and encourage his tradition to continue!


The catholic church brought this upon themselves.........anyone who isn't worried about their children around priests is nuts.


ghmomma....you are correct to a point. Unless you have witnessed Father Bill doing this, you wouldn't understand. He does this on Sunday mornings, or at funerals and weddings. Nothing but a harmless show of his love and the love of Christ that he lives by for these kids or anyone he hugs. As someone mentioned, people that are not even Catholic that have interacted with Father Bill, know he is a genuine man of the cloth. He has nothing but love for all people. I say keep hugging.


don't fool yourself ghmomma.. the people you think the catholic priests are come in all faiths. Teachers, friends, even your own family members are capable of wrong doing. Only an ignorant person would generalize all catholic priests as molesters. May god have mercy on your soul.


I wasn't generalizing.....I was referring to the specific problem the catholic church has been having for decades now. Maybe you should worry about your own soul instead of mine.


Again, not.


Yes sister.

Mark Reiss

Fr. Bill is a good and decent man who embodies all the qualities we look for in our Catholic leaders. The children of St. Pats have always looked forward to being called to the Alter to take part in mass and receive a hug and blessing from Fr. Bill. You see him blessing each child and they look at him as though they were looking into the face of God. They are all the better for the experience, as is he. This simple act of kindness and inclusion of the children has served to not only grow, but strengthen the St. Pats Congregation. It’s discontinuation will no doubt have a negative effect on St. Pats, its children and Fr. Bill, because I know they did as much to lift his soul as he did theirs.


Every single priest that has been accused of molesting children was at one time a 'pillar' of the church.........trusted, loved, admired, believed in, and adored.....that's why the system has worked for them for so long........




I am not even Catholic, but know Father Bill. His hugs are totally innocent. What a sad world we live in when we cannot even show affection to one another! Believe me, there is a difference between a pervert's hug and one from a warm and humane person. I hope people do not let the current horrors with perverted priests color all their dealings with their fellow humans!


GHMomma - you better put your kids or grandkids in a bubble! They can't play football (Penn State), basketball (Syracuse), baseball (Whitehall), sing in the school choir (Muskegon) or even go to school (too many to list). Come on, this is a hug in front of 500 people!


Father Bill your are missing your calling to lead by bowing down to a few degenerates of our society. We need a moral compass and a strong Church for young and old alike. God is on your side to hug anyone in need and don't ever forget about the army of Christian soldiers standing behind you in case you need them. Please reconsider your decision.


This is so messed up people! This man is a Saint! He loves these kids!


I don't know Father Bill and have never met him. I do not know if he is guilty of an impropriety or not. I do know that this is a publicity ploy by the Catholic Church to try and manipulate the press away from their horrible pedophile problems. I used to like the Jesuits but I see they have gone bankrupt. Anyway some of the oldest Christian Church writings are complaints about priest molesting little boys. Look at the Church sponsored art, lots of naked little boys (Cherubs) with their backs to you. I suggest we increase our vigilance. In first century Jerusalem a single man caught with a non related little boy or girl was executed. Stop the child molestations today.

In his name.


How do you know this is a publicity ploy by the Catholic church?


The focus on Father Bill and not the children.


That's not evidence, that's conjecture. Again, how do you know that the Catholic church is using this as a publicity ploy?


Getting children to hug someone in public lessens their inhibitions to hug in private. I don't know Fr "Bill" but am suspicious of authority figures who want to be called by their first names.


Suspicious of authority figures that want to be called by their first name???? You don't know about Catholic priests, do you? All priests are addressed by Father followed by their first name. Are you addressed by your first name? All people are addressed by their first name, aren't they?


I understand why the Church would ask Father Bill to stop hugging. But the point would be to protect him from being wrongly accused not that they would ever think he was wrongly doing something. Father Bill is a friend of mine and the part that I am sad about is how people who have no idea would accuse him of wrong doing. Please don't judge a man that you don't know and nothing wrong is being said about him. Father Bill is a great man and I will always defend his honor and you should as well instead of writing accusatory comments.


It came to me in a vision?


I have known Fr. Bill since a few years before he was assigned to St. Pat's. In fact, I lobbied now Monsignor Duncan to have him assigned to St. Pats. (I will never know if my lobbying had anything to do with the assignment) Fr. Bill is a wonderful man with a genuine and wholesome love of everyone, especially children. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is NO malice or perversion in his "hugs"
However, in my opinion, this was never about hugs, it is about the appropriateness of giving them during the liturgy. The Church has "rules" about how a Mass should be said. It doesn't matter if we like them or not. We do not get to vote. That said, fist bumps during Mass are as inappropriate as hugs and would, in my mind, detract from the reverence of the Mass. In fact, I think they would be just plain silly.
As I understand it, there is no prohibition about hugging at anytime outside of the Liturgy. So, I hope that Fr. Bill hugs, fist bumps, high fives or any other gesture that he believes connects him to the children and does it to his heart's content---just shift it to outside the Liturgy.


Vithant, You have every right to hold whatever opinion you have - I think you show great ignorance; however, when you use this as an opportunity to ridicule the Church and those who follow the faith. I'm not Catholic, I've only met Father Bill once, but I am smart enough to know I can't really proclaim to "know" what is behind a decision. Unless you are responding while sitting in the Vatican, your comments show clearly that you are just using this as an opportunity to "jab" people who believe differently than you. If you don't know Father Bill, you aren't a member of the Church, and you aren't connected to the Vatican - you, know nothing. For those of you who have benefited from your connection "of hugs" with Father Bill, I hope that you (and he) find another way to maintain that important connection.


Kids are the spirit of life. Without them we are pretty much screwed. Every generation will be different. It is unfortunate that today's society regards a male person hugging anyone under 18 as bad. There are more good guys than bad guys in this world.


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