GRAND RAPIDS — Pope Francis has dismissed retired priest William “Father Bill” Langlois from the clerical state due to allegations of sexual abuse.
The dismissal includes a dispensation from all obligations of the clerical state. Langlois may no longer minister as a priest, celebrate the sacraments, wear clerical dress or present himself as a priest.
Langlois was granted senior priest status in April 2016, which means he has not been assigned to a parish since that time.
According to a press release from the Diocese of Grand Rapids on Friday, a victim approached the diocese in 2018 regarding incidents of sexual abuse that occurred from 1999 through 2006, while Langlois was serving as pastor of St. Patrick–St. Anthony Parish in Grand Haven. These incidents reportedly began while the victim was a minor and continued into adulthood.
The diocese said it immediately notified local authorities, who worked with the Office of the Michigan Attorney General to investigate the allegation. Even though he was already retired, the diocese further restricted Langlois from any type of public ministry as soon as it learned of the allegation.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids said its review board assessed the allegation made against Langlois and advised Bishop David Walkowiak that it was credible. Walkowiak forwarded the results of the preliminary canonical investigation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for their determination on the case.
“It takes courage for survivors to share their story. I am appreciative this survivor came forward and I hope that this announcement will aid in the healing process,” Walkowiak said in Friday’s press release. “As bishop, I renew my profound apologies to all those who have suffered abuse in the church. I continue my prayers and support for their recovery and healing.”
In 2014, the Tribune reported that Langlois was taking a leave for six months for a time of “prayer, reflection and counseling.”
In 2016, the Tribune announced that Langlois was retiring after 20 years as pastor at the St. Patrick–St. Anthony Parish. In that article, it was noted that “since joining St. Patrick–St. Anthony Parish in August 1996, Langlois was responsible for the creation of several new ministries and celebrations that have become a hallmark of his leadership. In 2007, he oversaw the parish celebration of its 150th anniversary. In 2012, he oversaw the merger of the St. Patrick and St. Anthony parishes.”
“Father Bill was instrumental in the creation of 137 ministries during his tenure here at our parish,” Parish Administrator John Strazanac said at the time. “He really empowered people who brought up an idea for a new ministry by telling them to ‘go for it’ and, because of that, these outreach ministries flourished.”
A call to the St. Patrick–St. Anthony Parish on Friday afternoon was referred the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.
Any person who suspects the sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy or by any person acting in the name of the Catholic Church is urged to make a formal complaint to the Michigan Attorney General’s hotline at 844-324-3374.
Feb. 24, 1974: Ordained to the priesthood
1974: Associate pastor, St. Stephen Parish, East Grand Rapids
1976: Associate pastor, St. Jude Parish, Grand Rapids.
1979: Chaplain for Blodgett and Butterworth Hospitals, Grand Rapids
1984: Pastor, St. Michael Parish, Coopersville, with a mission at Grand Valley State University
1996: Pastor, St. Patrick–St. Anthony Parish, Grand Haven
2016: Granted senior priest status (retired)