Beginning in 1825, German immigrants began to settle in the farmlands of what is now northeast Dearborn. Peter and Catharina Theisen Esper donated four acres at the northeast corner of Warren and Schaefer for the establishment of St. Alphonsus Parish. A Catholic school was built in 1846 and a cemetery three years later. The first Mass was celebrated in the Esper home in 1851 and a church was built the following year.
Rev. Anthony Buechsenmann was pastor 1897-1920 and he kept detailed sacramental records for the parish. With St. Alphonsus being an ethnic parish, Fr. Buechsenmann delivered his sermons in German until World War I.
A permanent high school was built in 1921 and the current church dates to 1928.
The parish's high school closed in 2003; the grade school and convent followed shortly after. The high school building was briefly occupied by a charter school but has been vacant for the last several years.
The high altar was restored and repainted a few years ago.
Tall, narrow windows in the clerestory show depictions of the Blessed Virgin.
In the east transept stands the Sacred Heart of Jesus with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. In the west transept is the Pieta.
Tall, faded mosaics line the walls of the transept.
Painted stations, covered in glass, line the walls of the nave.
On one side of each station is a depiction of saints and on the other side are symbols of the Church.
St. Alphonsus Church is located at 13540 Gould, one block north of Warren and just east of Schaefer, in northeast Dearborn.
St. Al's is in the process of merging with nearby St. Clement. The fates of both church buildings are yet to be determined.
Fr. David Lesniak has been pastor for several years. Daily Mass is at 8:30am every weekday. Saturday Vigil Mass is 4:00pm; Sunday Mass is at 9:00am and 11:00am. Confessions at heard beginning at 2:30pm on Saturdays.
For more info: bulletin archive
For more photos: AOD Film Services
For more history: Detroit 1701
More about Fr. Buechsenmann: 1880 Census record