Monday, February 13, 2017

St. Mel Church (Dearborn Heights)

St. Mel Parish was established in the summer of 1956 with 370 registered families. The parish soon started a Men's Club and Confraternity of Christian Mothers in July of that year, both met at the hall of St. Raphael Parish.

Fr. John F. Furlong was reassigned from St. Frances Cabrini to be the first pastor at St. Mel. The first Mass was held at Garden City High School in July of 1956. The faithful had to take the portable altar home with them each Sunday. Religious instruction for the public school children of the parish began at St. Raphael's School on October 6, 1956.

On December 8th of that year, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, parishioners broke ground for St. Mel's new church and social hall. The rectory was completed the following January. Catechism classes, for first through  sixth grades, were taught at both Douglas School and Harrison School in Garden City. Seventh and eighth grades were in the rectory basement.

Edward Cardinal Mooney dedicated St. Mel Church on May 26, 1958. The eight-classroom school was completed in 1961 and a convent was also completed that year. 1,219 students received religious instruction at the time and the first full day of class was on September 5, 1962. Felician Sisters soon arrived at the parish and taught at the school for decades.

Fr. Furlong  ministered at the parish for nearly two decades until he retired on January 1, 1976. Fr. Thomas Kramer, also a canon lawyer, has been pastor for the last 15 years.  This past Sunday, the parish celebrated the 40th anniversary of Fr. Kramer's presbyteral ordination.

The parish school closed in 2005; it was one of fifteen Catholic schools to close that year and had an enrollment of 119 students at the time. St. Mel had planned to cluster and/or merge with nearby St. Linus, also in Dearborn Heights. However, for several reasons, that plan didn't follow through and St. Mel will close later this year, likely at the end of June.

A large mural on the front facade depicts several scenes with the parish's patron.

The facade wraps around and into the vestibule. Here is shows St. Mel being consecrated as a  Bishop of Ardagh at the hands of St. Patrick.

Inside the vestibule, next to the center door, it shows St. Mel accepting St. Brigid's profession as a nun and appointing her as abbess.

A statue of St. Mel stands in a shrine at the rear of the church, surrounded by crosses bearing names of the departed.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus to the right of the sanctuary; St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the rear of the church.

A chapel is located in the school building and near the parish office. The chapel is open Monday-Friday, 8:00am-3:00pm, with daily Mass at 8:30am.

After Tuesday Mass, they pray Mother of Perpetual Help devotions. First Friday devotions and Anointing of the Sick follow First Friday Mass. 

For more info: bulletin archive
Another blog post: Discovering Detroit Catholic Churches
About the school closing: The Michigan CatholicPress & Guide

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