Thursday, May 05, 2016

St. Stephen Parish (New Boston)

Polish immigrants first arrived in Michigan during the mid-1800s. Some settled in Huron Township, near the Huron River. The first Masses began in 1874 and were hosted in the home of Anthony Reiser on Sibley Road. Fr. Louis Florent Gillet, CSsR, traveled on horseback from Monroe to minister to the community. Fr. Gillet was also once of the founders of the IHM Sisters.
Fr. Louis Florent Gillet, CSsR
Msgr. Edward Joos
St. Stephen Mission was soon established; a  small, brick church was built and the first Mass was on November 26, 1875. However, the church was not dedicated until September 14, 1884. Fr. Edward Joos conducted the ceremony and he later became the first Detroit priest to be designated Monsignor.

The congregation was under the direction of different parishes for years from the Capuchins of St. Bonaventure Monastery,to Dearborn's Sacred Heart Parish. Later, St. Stephen was a mission of St. Joseph, Ypsilanti. After nearly 50 years as mission, Bishop Gallagher appointed Fr. Alphonse Nowogrodszki as the first resident pastor in 1920.
The cornerstone was laid on October 14, 1923

Fr. Nowogrodzski sought to build a new church and ground was broken on September 31, 1923, and the cornerstone was laid on October 12 of that year. Built during World War I, labor and materials were very expensive at the time. The church cost approximately $23,000 at the time, or $320,000 after inflation.
St. Stephen Church in its original condition
The pastor sought to minister to the impoverished community in nearby Belleville. Fr. Nowogrodzski bought an Episcopalian church, remodeled, and renamed it St. Anthony. He ministered to both congregations until 1942 when Fr. Francis Lukasiewicz arrived as an assistant. 

Fr. Nowogrodzski died on December 14, 1947, and buried four days later. The day after that, Fr. Edward Miotke was assigned pastor. Felician Sisters soon began teaching catechism classes on Saturday mornings and the parish sought to add a school. 

In 1949, architect Arthur DesRoisers drew plans and, on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 1950, groundbreaking took place on the new school. Shortly thereafter, Fr. Ignatius Czapski was named pastor.
Msgr. Tobias G. Morin at the dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary shrine in 1957
Contractor Andrew Bodary built the school and it opened the next year with an enrollment of 180 students staffed by Felician Sisters. Fr. Ignatius Czapski died from a heart attack in 1959 and was succeeded by Fr. Ladislaus Golas. Fr. Golas was transferred in 1967 and replaced by Fr. Alexander Wytrwal.

Bishop Walter Schoenherr blesses the school addition on February 16, 1969.

The parish celebrated a centennial in 1974 and published a book to mark the occasion. It features many historic photos and is viewable online in the digital library of Central Connecticut State University. 

For the last 68 years, St. Stephen has hosted an annual Polish festival every spring, this year's festival is scheduled for May 20-22nd.

Fr. John Hedges has been pastor since 2005 and also serves as spiritual director for Riverview's Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima.

A monument stands in front the rectory, the Ten Commandments are on one side and the Beatitudes on the reverse.

St. Stephen the protomartyr stands in front of the church; St. Joseph with Child Jesus near the rectory.

Plaque in memory of former pastors and assistant priests; a crucifix and Vatican flag in the vestibule.

Lettering above the main doorway references Isaiah 56:7 (and consequently Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46).

A Divine Mercy image and St. Faustina Kowalska at the main entrance.

Masses are celebrated ad orientem with the priest facing the tabernacle during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

A side altar featuring a crucifix, the Blessed Mother, St. Therese, St. Anthony, and two Divine Mercy images

The Sacred Heart of Jesus stands near the St. Joseph side altar.

Saturday Vigil Mass is at 4:00pm. Sundays brings Mass at 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am and 5:00pm. Confessions are heard 30 minutes before each weekend Mass.

First Saturdays bring 8:00am Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Center in Riverview. Remaining Saturdays bring 8:00am Mass at St. Stephen followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, morning prayer, and Flame of Love Cenacle. 

Daily Mass schedules vary according to the time of year, refer to the parish bulletin. The parish also hosts Wednesday night bible study.

The parish is located a few miles southwest of Metro Airport

For more info: parish website +  school website + bulletin archive
For more photos: AOD Film Services

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