Thursday, June 02, 2016

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish (St. Raphael Church, Garden City)

St. Raphael Parish was established in 1932 under the direction of Fr. Gereon Stack. Florence Cowperthwaite donated land and the church opened on Christmas Eve, 1934.
First Holy Communion, 1934. Source: Facebook

A parish grade school  soon opened with an enrollment of nearly 500 students. The school was directed by  Sisters of St. Francis from Sylvania, OH, for decades.
   

The current church was finished in 1954 at a cost of $118,000 ($1.037 million adjusted for inflation).

The church underwent massive renovations, including a new facade, in 1996.

In 2014, St. Raphael merged with St. Dunstan (est. 1957, two miles away, also in Garden City).
The former St. Dunstan Church. Source: AOD Film Services

Fr. Simeon Tsetim Iber, a native of Nigeria and priest since 1988, was installed as pastor last year and is assisted by two permanent deacons.

St. Raphael School planned to merge with St. Genevieve (Livonia), St. Damian (Westland) and St. Robert Bellarmine (Redford) to form the regional Divine Mercy School. They anticipated 200-300 students but only 74 students were registered by early March so merger plans were cancelled. 
   

Christ the Good Shepherd stands in the vestibule near a Divine Mercy image
   

Madonna and Child at the left altar; St. Joseph at the right altar.
   


Symbols of the sacraments are shown in the windows on the east side of the building

St. Thomas the Apostle has about 1,400 registered parishioners today. Daily Mass is at 8:30am every weekday except for Wednesday Communion Service. Confessions are heard at 3:00pm on Saturdays, followed by 4:30pm Mass. Sunday Mass is at 9:00am and 11:00am.
   

The parish has hosted an annual festival for the last four decades. This year, it is scheduled for September 16-18.

For more info: parish website school website + bulletin archive
For more photos: AOD Film Services
An article about the pastor: Hometown Life
About the proposed school merger: WXYZ + Detroit Free Press

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