Thursday, June 28, 2018

St. Robert Bellarmine (Redford Twp.)

Cardinal Mooney canonically established St. Robert Bellarmine Parish on June 26, 1953, with Fr. George T. Stromske as founding pastor. The first Mass was celebrated on Sunday, July 12, 1953, with 185 in attendance. In the next several months, the congregation quickly grew to 800 and the parish needed a permanent church. They bought land on the border of Redford and Livonia, at the corner of West Chicago and Inkster Roads, that was previously owned by the Daughters of Charity as an alternate site for the Sarah Fisher Home.

The cornerstone of the church was laid on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1954, and Msgr. Walter Hardy led the ceremony. Construction was quickly finished and the first Mass was three months later, on July 18, 1954. On the same day, 50 children received First Holy Communion and a parish school was established the same year.

Like many parochial schools, St. Robert Bellarmine struggled with declining enrollment and increasing debt in the 21st Century. They planned to merge and form a regional school along with St. Genevieve in Livonia, St. Damian in Westland, and St. Raphael in Garden City. Those plans did not come to fruition and all four schools closed after the 2014-2015 academic year.

St. Robert Bellarmine clustered with St. Hilary and St. John Bosco in 2012. St. Hilary closed in 2014 but the other two remained clustered. Last year, a transition team began the long-term planning process for the cluster. A recommendation was made that the two parishes merge to form the new parish of St. John XXIII, effective July 1, 2018. It is likely that one of the two churches will close soon.

The two current pastors, Fr. Richard Osebold and Fr. Richard Leliaert, respectively, will both retire shortly.  Fr. Leliaert has been pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine since 2006 and has been granted senior priest status at the age of 77. Bishop Emeritus Walter Hurley will be administrator and assisted by Fr. Gregory Piatt.

The Paschal candle and baptismal font stand in the middle of the nave; a bust of the namesake at the back of the church.

St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary at a side altar; BVM and child Jesus stand in a niche behind the side altar.

St. Jude, St. Joseph the Worker, and the Good Shepherd in the same niche.

Most of the windows are clear, with the exception of eight stained-glass windows behind the altar.

More info: parish website + Detroit Free Press

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