Friday, February 17, 2017

Upcoming events: Feburary 24-March 4

Friday, February 24
S.S. Peter & Paul, Detroit (west side)
6:30pm Confessions & Rosary
7:00pm Tridentine High Mass
8:00pm Swing & ballroom dance for ages 18-35


Sunday, February 26
St. Joseph Oratory, Detroit
11:00am Tridentine High Mass followed by 20-minute Lesson in Liturgy
("The Introit: Entering into the Mass")

oratory website


Wednesday, March 1
* fast and abstinence *


Friday, March 3
* Sacred Heart of Jesus, First Friday of Lent *


Saturday, March 4
* Immaculate Heart of Mary *

Monday, February 13, 2017

St. Mel Church (Dearborn Heights)

St. Mel Parish was established in the summer of 1956 with 370 registered families. The parish soon started a Men's Club and Confraternity of Christian Mothers in July of that year, both met at the hall of St. Raphael Parish.

Fr. John F. Furlong was reassigned from St. Frances Cabrini to be the first pastor at St. Mel. The first Mass was held at Garden City High School in July of 1956. The faithful had to take the portable altar home with them each Sunday. Religious instruction for the public school children of the parish began at St. Raphael's School on October 6, 1956.

On December 8th of that year, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, parishioners broke ground for St. Mel's new church and social hall. The rectory was completed the following January. Catechism classes, for first through  sixth grades, were taught at both Douglas School and Harrison School in Garden City. Seventh and eighth grades were in the rectory basement.

Edward Cardinal Mooney dedicated St. Mel Church on May 26, 1958. The eight-classroom school was completed in 1961 and a convent was also completed that year. 1,219 students received religious instruction at the time and the first full day of class was on September 5, 1962. Felician Sisters soon arrived at the parish and taught at the school for decades.

Fr. Furlong  ministered at the parish for nearly two decades until he retired on January 1, 1976. Fr. Thomas Kramer, also a canon lawyer, has been pastor for the last 15 years.  This past Sunday, the parish celebrated the 40th anniversary of Fr. Kramer's presbyteral ordination.

The parish school closed in 2005; it was one of fifteen Catholic schools to close that year and had an enrollment of 119 students at the time. St. Mel had planned to cluster and/or merge with nearby St. Linus, also in Dearborn Heights. However, for several reasons, that plan didn't follow through and St. Mel will close later this year, likely at the end of June.

A large mural on the front facade depicts several scenes with the parish's patron.

The facade wraps around and into the vestibule. Here is shows St. Mel being consecrated as a  Bishop of Ardagh at the hands of St. Patrick.

Inside the vestibule, next to the center door, it shows St. Mel accepting St. Brigid's profession as a nun and appointing her as abbess.

A statue of St. Mel stands in a shrine at the rear of the church, surrounded by crosses bearing names of the departed.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus to the right of the sanctuary; St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the rear of the church.

A chapel is located in the school building and near the parish office. The chapel is open Monday-Friday, 8:00am-3:00pm, with daily Mass at 8:30am.

After Tuesday Mass, they pray Mother of Perpetual Help devotions. First Friday devotions and Anointing of the Sick follow First Friday Mass. 

For more info: bulletin archive
Another blog post: Discovering Detroit Catholic Churches
About the school closing: The Michigan CatholicPress & Guide

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sacred Heart Church (St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish, Roseville)

On April 1, 1861, Fr. Amandus VanDenDreissche, pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Grotto) Parish, was given permission to start a mission that would be known as Sacred Heart. This was in the unincorporated village of Utica Junction, in Erin Township, southern Macomb County.

Daniel Corby donated three acres of land for a church and, during the 2.5 year construction, Mass was celebrated at a nearby building twice a month. The parish soon added a cemetery one block southeast of the church.

Fr. Francis Hendrickx became the first resident pastor in 1871. His successor, Fr. Louis VanStraelen, started the first parish elementary school with an enrollment of 12 students. However, this school lasted less than a decade. A new attempt to start a parish school was made following the First World War and a high school was added later.
An 1895 map shows Sacred Heart Church and cemetery at center - Source

The original frame church survived two moves but Fr. Dennis Tighe did not think the structure could survive a third relocation when Gratiot Avenue was widened in 1928. 
Construction of a new church soon began but halted by the Great Depression. The basement was finished and the parish worshiped there through World War II. The cornerstone of the current church was laid in 1949 and construction finished the following year.

Membership at the parish peaked in the early 1960s with 3,000 registered families. Like many parishes at the time, Masses were celebrated simultaneously in upper and lower churches.

The parish and school grew significantly during the postwar period with about 2,000 students enrolled K-12. Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary taught at the school for decades until it closed in the summer of 1971 due to a $730,000 debt.

Over time, a total of 22 child parishes grew from Sacred Heart. Among them: St. Lawrence, St. Barnabas, St. Isaac Jogues, Holy Innocents and St. Margaret. 
Sacred Heart Church, as it appeared in 1968 -  Source
Sacred Heart Church  became widely recognized green-tile roof and barrel vault ceiling.

At some time, most of the church was renovated and reconfigured. The organ moved to where the sanctuary once was, the altar was moved to one side of the nave, and pews were added to the former choir loft.

The church saw many renovations in the early 2000s under the pastorate of Fr. Eugene Katcher. Among these: restoration of the sanctuary floor, murals of the four evangelists, and more to match the Mediterranean Revival style of its exterior.

Like many parishes, membership steadily dropped and was at 696 families in 2004. Archbishop Vigneron celebrated the 150th anniversary on October 23, 2011. At the time, there were 550 registered families.

Sacred Heart merged with St. Athanasius, Roseville, and Our Lady Queen of All Saints Parish, Fraser, to form the new parish of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. OLQAS closed the following year. At the time of the merger, there was a combined membership of 1,983 families (311 at Sacred Heart; 831 at St. A’s; and 841 at OLQAS). Rev. Greg Rozborski, a native of Poland, has been administrator since the merger.

A decorative motif on the ceiling; the rose window above the choir loft.

Plain, monochromotatic windows seem to be later additions.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus above the main interior doorway; arch windows above an exterior door.

St. Anne with Child Mary and Pope St. Pius X stand in the narthex

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Thérèse near the main entrance.

Sacred Heart Church was expected to close in 2015, shortly after the merger, but closure was delayed due to a strong reaction from the community and a chance to pay off their debts. However, after many years of struggle, Sacred Heart Church will close next week. There are just two remaining Masses scheduled at Sacred Heart Church: Saturday, January 21, at 4:00pm and Monday, January 23, at 6:30pm. 

Then-Fr. Walter Hurley was pastor of Sacred Heart 1976-1979. He was later ordained as the 22nd auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2003. Two years later, he became the 11th Bishop of Grand Rapids. Bishop Walter Hurley retired in 2013 but will return to his former parish next Monday for the last Mass. The parish's other church, formerly known as St. Athanasius, is expected to continue.

For more info: parish website + bulletin
News articles: The Michigan CatholicC & G News
Three articles from Macomb Daily: 6/27/2014, 5/4/20155/17/2015
A catalog of the graves at the parish cemetery: US GenWeb Archives
High school history: Wikipedia + Class of 1968