Thursday, September 07, 2017

St. Sebastian (Dearborn Heights)

St. Sebastian Parish was founded on June 14, 1949, with Fr. Edmund B. Dommer as founding pastor. At the beginning, the parish consisted of 1,200 families on the border of southeast Dearborn Heights and southwest Dearborn. The first Mass was celebrated on August 28, 1949, in a converted, portable classroom which was donated by another parish. An assistant pastor, Fr. Donald E. Bartone, arrived a few months later. Fr. Joachim Hoffman, a Mariannhill priest, also assisted.

Groundbreaking of the permanent church was in March of 1950, construction was finished in August, the first Mass was celebrated on August 27, and Edward Cardinal Mooney dedicated the church on December 3, 1950. St. Mary's Hospital donated the church's bell. The temporary church was later converted into a gymnasium and and social, then again later into Catholic School Credit Union.

Also in 1950, three Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph from Hamburg, New York, began teaching catechesis. The school building, featuring ten classrooms, was completed in November, 1951, but didn't open until September, 1952. At its founding, the school has 378 students in grades 1-6, 7th and 8th grades were added later and the fist graduating class had 42 students. Fr. Dommer died in November of 1954 and was succeeded by Fr. F.L. Van Hout

Fr. Van Hout paid off the parish debt and made several additions to parish property. The school was expanded in 1965 accommodate 24 classrooms. That same year, fittingly, the convent was expanded to house capacity of 24 sisters. As 26 years as pastor, Fr. Van Hout retired in 1970 and was replaced by Fr. William Brennan.

The church saw many renovations in 1985, under the direction of Fr. Brennan. He built a new altar, lectern, candlesticks and celebrant's chair, all still in use today. A decade later, Fr. William Brennan Activity Building was dedicated on April 26, 1997.

Fr. Brennan served at the parish for 33 years until he was forced to retire in 2003. Priests from the Society of St. Paul assisted at the parish for decades. A portrait near the sacristy memorializes one of them, Fr. Joseph Triano, S.S.P., who began ministry at the parish in the 1980s and continued until his death in 2007.

The parish organizes an annual gala each spring as a fundraiser for the school, as well as an annual spring festival and Lenten fish fry. Fr. Walter Ptak has been pastor since July. Saturday Vigil Mass at 4:30 pm,  Sunday Masses are at 8:30 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm. Daily Mass is Monday-Friday is at 6:30 pm. Additionally, 8:30 am Mass is on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday. The parish also has First Friday Mass at 11:15 am and First Saturday at 8:30 am.

For more info: parish website + school website + bulletin archive

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