Monday, March 03, 2014

Final Mass at St. Bartholomew–St. Rita

St. Bartholomew Parish was established in 1925 with Fr. Simon Kilar as founding pastor. Fr. Kilar also was the founding pastor of Transfiguration ParishSt. Bartholomew built a new church in 1950 along with a connected school gym.

A plaque in the vestibule recognizes donors who helped fund the construction of the convent.

An icon of St. Rita in the vestibule near the holy water font.

The most unique aspect about this building would be the enormous cross and crucifix, standing at the altar, stretching from floor to ceiling.

A depiction of the Last Supper was found on the front of the altar; the tabernacle located at the side altar.

Statues of St. Charles Lwanga, St. Anthony of Padua (not pictured), the Infant of Prague, and the Blessed Mother stood in the corner.


This was a fairly modern church with little ornamentation. The windows, with the exception of those above the choir loft, were plain with curtains covering them.

In 2008, St. Bartholomew merged with St. Rita (est. 1924). The former St. Rita Church, located at 1000 E. State Fair, is currently in use by another denomination.  St. Bartholomew School closed after the 2011–2012 academic year. It was the last Catholic school on Detroit's east side at the time.

One of four confessionals and the presider's chair.

The organist performs before Mass near the side altar.

As expected, a large congregation packed the church for the last Mass on Sunday, March 2. Many of those in attendance were former parishioners and/or school alumni.

The altar is prepared for Eucharist as St. Rita and St. Bartholomew standby.

Hymn numbers,  a detail of the altar, and sanctuary bells.

I spent a majority of my time in the former choir loft, recently used for storage.

The Mass of Suppression was celebrated by Bishop Donald Hanchon along with the pastor, associate pastor, and one former pastor. In the Introductory Rites, the bishop declared:
We are Gods’ temple, God’s holy people. Today we gather to give thanks for the 89 years that this building St. Bartholomew–St. Rita has been our home. It is here that we have gathered each Sunday to hear God’s Word, to praise and thank Him for His presence in our lives, to receive His Body and Blood as our food for the journey of life. It is here that we have been sent forth, transformed, to be Christ’s presence in our community. Today we gather here for the last time, and prepare ourselves for a journey to a new home. Let us prepare our minds and hearts for the mystery we will celebrate and for the peace and mercy of God we will need on our journey.

After Eucharist was distributed, the priests and ministers consumed the remaining hosts. The tabernacle was left open and the altar cloth removed. At that time, the bishop incensed the altar for the final time.

At the end of Mass, before the closing procession, we practiced the "Rite of Leave-Taking." Congregants were invited to approach the sanctuary and venerate the altar.

After this, congregants joined the procession out of the church. The doors were closed and the bishop declared:
Here we and those who have gone before us have celebrated our joys and sorrows. In this church we have encountered Jesus Christ in Word, sacrament, and one another. Now, after 89 years of faith, with thanks to God for the good accomplished here, I declare this church of St. Bartholomew–St. Rita closed.
Lastly, everyone gathered in the social hall — the former school gym — for refreshments and conversation.

Fr. Ronald Borg, CSB, and Fr. Thomas Puzio, pastor and associate pastor, will continue their respective roles at nearby Our Lady Queen of Heaven.

More photos: AOD Film Services
Bulletin archive: Seek & Find
For more blog reviews of the church: Detroit PilgrimDiscovering Detroit Catholic Churches, and Creative Gene