Tuesday, April 25, 2017

St. Augustine Church (Richmond)

Catholics began settles in the Richmond area in the middle of the 19th Century. Priests from St. Clair, New Baltimore and Mt. Clemens ministered to the mission. By the early 1870's what would eventually become the St. Augustine parish was ministered to by three missionaries in Macomb County; Lawrence Kilroy, Aloysius Lambert, and Benedict Gery.

In the late 1870’s, Mary McCarthy opened her Lenox Township home and housed a chapel there. The Mission of St. Augustine was established in July 1880. It was placed in the care of Rev. Schenkelberg of Anchorville.  In a report to the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1890, Fr. Schenkelburg stated that he only visited St. Augustine once a month - on the 15th of each month. While under his care, a community project in Richmond-Lenox was undertaken to construct a church building. The ground was purchased and donations were raised. A number of non-Catholic citizens, recognizing the value of the church, contributed generously. The foundation of the old wooden church was laid in 1887 and dedicated in the same year by Bishop Foley. This frame church, dedicated to St. Augustine, was constructed at a cost of $5,000 (about $120,000 adjusted for inflation).

In 1889, Michael Schindler donated the land for St. Michael Cemetery, which is still maintained by the parish today. April 21, 1892, Rev. Fr. Thomas J. Ryan of Kalamazoo was appointed to be the first resident priest. The parish grew to 200 families around the turn of the 20th Century and needed a larger church. Construction on the current edifice began in 1912. To limit costs, the farming community used fieldstones from their land for the bulk of the construction.and parishioners largely built the church themselves.

One unknown man was tasked with clearing and preparing the land for construction. His role included using dynamite, which he had no prior experience with. Another man, William Zuelk, inspected and organized every stone used in the construction. In total, parishioners excavated, hauled, and delivered over 1,000 loads of stone.

The current church was dedicated on Thursday Dec. 11, 1913. After the ceremony, dinner was served in the basement of the old frame church. The old frame church was later moved to make room for a parking lot.

The parish cemetery was later expanded in 1920 and, again in 1965, Thaddeus Swartz and his wife donated an additional 3.5 adjacent acres, effectively doubling the size of the cemetery.

Large, stone plaques in the narthex recognize benefactors to the church.

St. Augustine Church is a landmark in Richmond, recognized for its twin steeples and terra cotta roof.

Scenes from the Gospel are depicted in the stained-glass windows, which are likely original to the building.

Appropriately, the Baptism of Jesus and symbols of baptism are found in the former baptistery windows.

A small, round window above the altar shows the Crucifixion. It was donated by Fr. Edward Schrauder at the time of construction.

Side altars to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, respectively.

The left transept features a rose window depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Anthony of Padua, with Child Jesus, in the right transept.

A small statue of the parish patron on display in a corner of the right transept; an exterior view of a rose window.

Buttresses on the side of the church; matching windows above each door.

Saturday Vigil Mass is at 6:00pm followed by Confessions at 7;00pm. Sunday Masses are at 7;30am and 9:00am. Weekday Mass is at 8:00am on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

The parish also administers a K-8 parochial school.

Fr. Joseph Mallia has been pastor for the last year and is assisted by Fr. Sean Bonner and Deacon Alan Gwozdz. All three clerics are also assigned to Holy Family Church, in Memphis, six miles north of St. Augustine.

For more info: parish website + school + history + cemetery
For more photos: AOD Film Services


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