Thursday, September 18, 2014

St. Cecilia Church (St. Charles Lwanga Parish)

St. Cecilia Parish was established in 1921 and a parish school opened four years later. Enrollment at the grade school neared 1,000 by the end of the 1920s. The current church is dated to 1929.


The high school closed in 1967 and the building was converted into a neighborhood recreation center called "Ceciliaville." Professional basketball players such as Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, and others played at Ceciliaville as teenagers.

In 1968, then-pastor Fr. Raymond Ellis commissioned a new fresco in the apse to reflect the parish's demographics. Devon Cunningham, parishioner and artist, painted the apse in one summer and continues to worship at St. Cecilia. Portraits of former pastors and other influential figures appear at the feet of Jesus.



As you may imagine, many people took notice of the change for better or worse. The mural received national attention and was featured on the cover of Ebony Magazine in 1969.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Mother to the right of the main altar.
 
 
A portrait of the parish's sixth pastorMsgr. Thomas Finnigan, hangs in the vestibule near the baptismal font.
 

Much of the communion rail is still intact.

The parish elementary school eventually closed in 2010.


St. Cecilia Church is located on Livernois Ave., a few blocks north of I-96, in northwest Detroit. Last year, St. Cecilia merged with St. Leo to form St. Charles Lwanga Parish. Both locations continue to celebrate weekly Mass. 

Fr. Theodore Parker is the current pastor while Douglas Jackson serves as permanent deacon.
 
Confessions are heard Saturdays, 4:00pm-6:00pm (please call ahead). The parish does morning prayer on Sundays, in the rectory, at 6:00am. Sunday Mass is at 8:30am and 10:00am. The parish celebrates daily Mass as announced.

For more about the parish, call the rectory at 313-933-678
For more about the school: IHM Sisters

History of the Ceciliaville rec center: USA Today
News articles about the church: Detroit Free PressWashington Post

2 comments:

Georgia Richardson said...

Thanks for all this information
My parents, Nancy Fowkes and Edward Roberts were members of this parish, went to school there, and were married there. They lived on Monica and Cranshaw and I remember life in Detroit as a child visiting my Grandparents on Cranshaw in the 50's.
I am thrilled to see more historical information as I have such fond memories that are pretty foggy due to being so young
Thanks

David Bains said...

Thank you for this page.