Monday, March 17, 2014

Most Holy Trinity

Most Holy Trinity is a parish steeped in local history. In 1834, Bishop Résé bought a Presbyterian church with the intention of reusing it as a Catholic parish for Irish immigrants. The church was moved downtown to the corner of Bates and Cadillac Square and became the first English-speaking, Catholic parish in Detroit.

A tragic cholera epidemic took hold of the city that year. Before the church was consecrated, the founding pastor, Fr. Martin Kundig, turned it into a clinic to treat the sick.  The church effectively became the first hospital in the Michigan territory. A small memorial in the rear of the nave shows some artifacts from the clinic.

Fr. Kundig, born in Switzerland, served in the Swiss Papal Guard prior to ordination. He also founded the parish of (Old) St. Mary to serve German immigrants in what is now Greektown. He was a tireless minister to cholera victims: treating the ill, burying the deceased, and even became guardian of many orphans. Fr. Kundig soon went bankrupt and remained so the rest of his life.

A parish school was established in 1838, making it one of the oldest continuously-operated Catholic schools in the country. In 1849, the church moved again, west to what became known as Corktown. The current church was constructed in 1856. Currently, it stands just west of the Lodge Expressway and south of Michigan Avenue.

Msgr. Clement Kern, who served as pastor at Trinity for three decades, remains a beloved figure in the parish. He started the St. Frances Cabrini Clinic, a free clinic to those in need, in 1950. Msgr. Kern also organized a credit union, led an active Alcoholics Anonymous chapter, was influential with labor relations, and later served at St. John's Provincial Seminary.

Many of the century-old houses in Corktown were demolished in the 1960s to make room for planned redevelopment. That redevelopment did not come, so Msgr. Kern helped build low-income housing in its place. Clement Kern Gardens bear his name and a statue in his memory stands on the grounds. A Knights of Columbus Council in Canton also bears his name.

Msgr. Russell Kohler, a former student of Msgr. Kern, has served as pastor since 1991. Last year, Most Holy Trinity clustered with Ste. Anne and Msgr. Kohler divides his time between the two.

Most Holy Trinity School celebrated its 175th anniversary last year and it is one of few inner-city, parochial schools still in operation today.

On St. Patrick's Day every year, a bishop celebrates Mass along with many local priests of Irish descent. 

Various Irish and Catholic fraternal organizations attend the Mass including Ancient Order of Hibernians, Knights of Columbus, and Court of St. Brigid.

All of the windows in the nave are fairly uniform and feature a similar motif.

St. Patrick and St. Maximilian Kolbe stand at the left altar.

A portion of the communion rail still stands in front of the tabernacle.

A large plaque recognizes donors to the parish

Another plaque remembers deceased acolytes

St. Peter of Verona and St. Mary Magdalene stand near the entrance.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the side altars. 

The Holy Family, in front of the lectern, along with the baptismal font.

While the parish is historically Irish, much of the current congregation is Latino.

Most Holy Trinity celebrates Sunday Mass at 9:00am (Spanish) and 11:00am. Saturday Vigil Mass is at 4:00pm and, during the school year, Thursday Mass is at 9:15am.

More about Msgr. Kern: The Michigan Catholic & NY Times
Another blog post about the parish: Detroit Pilgrim


North Of Normal said...

Fun fact: the first Mass celebrated in the U.S. under electric lights was at Most Holy Trinity. Christmas Eve Mass in 1878, I believe. Could be wrong on the year.

detroitchurchblog said...

According to Wikipedia (unreliable source, I know), St. Edward in Shamokin, PA was the first church in the world to have electric lights. No date attributed.'s_Catholic_Church

Unknown said...

The part about Msgr. Kern I lived and was apart of him being there but to skip over Father Campbell, Father Duggan and most importantly Father Jay Samonie who all gave of themselves and the community is very sad.

detroitchurchblog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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