Wednesday, December 02, 2015

St. Vincent de Paul Church, Pontiac (St. Damien of Molokai Parish)

An image of the church in its original condition is displayed in the narthex
One of the first parishes in Oakland County, St. Vincent de Paul, was established in 1851. The original church was located on North Saginaw Street in Pontiac. Fifteen years later, the parish moved to a new location at Oakland & Lafayette. The parish continued to grow and, in the early 1880s, the parish decided to move again.

Fr. Fridolin Baumgartner led a fundraising effort to build a new church and hired the Detroit architecture firm of Donaldson & Meier to design the church. The cornerstone was laid on September 6, 1885, about a mile southeast of the parish's original location.

The church was dedicated two years later, on September 18, 1887. A three-ton bell was installed in the church in 1890. A rectory was constructed in 1895, a school building was added in 1897 and a parish hall in 1911. The school was replaced with another structure in 1923 and a convent was added in 1926. The school eventually closed in 1969.

The church is located at 46408 Woodward, on the northbound, east side of Woodward in Pontiac. It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1987 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places two years later.

St. Vincent de Paul initially clustered with two other Pontiac parishes: St. Michael (est. 1919) and St. Joseph (est. 1923). In 2009, the three parishes merged to form St. Damien of Molokai Parish. Fr. James Kean has been pastor since the merger and Fr. Jacob VanAssche joined as associate this past summer. They are assisted by Deacon Brian White.

Symbols of the immortality of Christ, the alpha (A) and omega (Ω), are found throughout the church, inside and out. These are found on the front doors as well as on the baptismal font, in the narthex, and above the altar.


Much of the interior is designed in a Neo-Gothic style: tall, narrow, pointed arches and elaborate wood carving.

St. Vincent de Paul and St. John the Baptist stand inside the high altar.

Side altars dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as the immaculate Heart of Mary

The tall, narrow windows feature depictions of plants.

Intricate motifs surround all of the trim; rosary beads line the edges of the archways.

A mural of the parish's patron in the south transept. 

A large crucifix and St. Mary Magdalene are also there, opposite a copy of the Pieta.

A rose window adorns the north transept

Sunday Mass, in Spanish, is at 9:00am and 7:00pm. Mass in English is at 11:00am Sundays as well as Noon on Wednesday, 9:00am on Friday, and 4:30pm on Saturday.

For more info: bulletin archive + wikipedia
About the merger and pastor: vicariate news
About 2010 renovations: Oakland Press

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