Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I.C.R.S.S. coming to St. Joseph on October 15th

As recently announced by Mother Divine Mercy Parish, Archbishop Vigneron has asked a religious community, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICRSS), to come to Detroit. More specifically, the archbishop asked them to move into and care for St. Joseph Church. Restoration of old churches is a bit of a "charism" for the order as they are currently undergoing massive reconstruction of Chicago's Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest for the second time after a devastating fire last year. 

Two priests will begin ministry on October 15th and, as such, the new, non-territorial parish will be known as St. Joseph Oratory. St. Josaphat and Sweetest Heart of Mary will continue as Mother of Divine Mercy Parish. Details are still being finalized but Fr. Greg Tokarski will remain as pastor of Mother Divine Mercy.

ICRSS was established in 1990 by Monsignor Gilles Wach and Father Philippe Mora in the African nation of Gabon. The U.S. headquarters is in Chicago, with many oratories in the Midwest, but this is their first establishment in Michigan. Their international headquarters and seminary are in Tuscany, Italy. The community adheres to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite but a visiting priest will celebrate Saturday Vigil Mass in the Ordinary Form for those that desire it.

For more info about ICRSS: institute-christ-king.org

Monday, August 29, 2016

St. John the Baptist (Monroe)

St. John the Baptist Church and rectory as painted by Monroe artist Karen McLaughlin

Rev. Fr. Camillus P. Maes organized St. John the Baptist Parish in 1872 to serve Monroe's Irish population, which had struggled to form an English-speaking parish over a forty year period. On September 12, 1872, Fr. Maes purchased a 100' x 150' plot of land, at the corner of Fifth and Monroe Streets, for a  cost of $900.

Bishop Borgess blessed and placed the cornerstone on June 24 (Nativity of St. John the Baptist) in 1873. Messre, Phelan and Bodell oversaw the construction.

In January, 1892, fire destroyed the interior of the church as well as the steeple. Fortunately, exterior walls survived the fire and remained when the church was rebuilt. Detroit architects Donaldson and Meier led the reconstruction effort and the building was rededicated the following October.

After nearly a century, St. John returned to its original appearance when the steeple was reconstructed in 1991 as part of a year-long, $1 million restoration project.

Alpha and Omega cover the reredos, beneath the Baptism in the Jordan

Side altars along with processional banners for St. Mary and St. Joseph, respectively.

Windows depicting St. Thomas More, Pope St. Pius X, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. These were likely later additions during the mid-20th century.

Symbolic windows in the narthex.

St. Jude, St. Anthony of Padua, and the Infant of Prague in the narthex.

Rev. Fr. James Smalarz has been pastor since 2010. Saturday Vigil Mass is at 5:30pm preceded by Confessions at 4:30pm. Sunday Mass is at 8:00am, 10:00am, and Noon. Weekdays Mass, followed by Rosary, is at 8:15am on Tuesday, Wednesday, and First Friday.

For more info: parish website + bulletin archive
Another blog post: Discovering Detroit Catholic Churches

Monday, August 22, 2016

Immaculate Conception (Ira Township)

Christian history around Anchor Bay dates back as far as 1679 when Fr. Louis Hennepin, a missionary who accompanied LaSalle, planted a cross in the Anchorville/Fair Haven area. French-Canadian, Catholic immigrants began to settle the area, then called Au Lac (near the lake), in the 18th century. Canadian and French missionaries ministered to the area followed by priests from Grosse Pointe, Mt. Clemens and Marine City.
Statue of Fr. Louis Hennepin outside Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, MN. Wikipedia
One of the first settlers, Etienne Rose, deeded a portion of land for a church and cemetery. A log church was built on the site where the current church now stands off the northern shore of Anchor Bay, in Ira Township.
The original church. parish website
Bishop Peter Paul Lefevere appointed Rev. Charles A. Chambille as the first pastor in 1853. A rectory was yet to be built so Fr. Chambille resided with parishioners at the time. Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish was dedicated on October 15, 1853. Fr. Chambille was later transferred to Dearborn's St. Alphonsus Parish six years later. On December 4, 1885, Au Lac was renamed Anchorville when a post office was established there.

A massive fire on August 26, 1917, destroyed the church, rectory, convent and school. Rev. Fr. James Downey, pastor at the time, led the parish in the reconstruction efforts. Less than a year later, both the church and four-room school were rebuilt.

Fr. Downey led the parish for 22 years and continually ministered to the sick, even when his own health declined. He died suddenly of a heart attack on September 19, 1935. More than 1,000 attended the Requiem High Mass including 114 priests and 50 nuns.

The parish continued to grow in the coming decades. Ground was broken for a new school in May of 1959 and opened the following fall. An additional 8 classrooms were added in 1966. Reduced funding in 1971 forced the school to temporarily close for five years until enough funds were raised. To celebrate the reopening of the school, Fr. Harry Paul held a special Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, August 22, 1976.
Marble altars follow a Gothic Revival style; a mural covers the illuminated apse.
A Knights of Columbus council was chartered on December 8, 1991. A parish hall and school gymnasium were added in 2005. 

Side altars for the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.

A holy water font near one of the entrances; the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands above a doorway.

Stained-glass windows and a plaque in the vestibule of the church.

Most of the nave windows depict scenes from the gospels

The Adoration of the Magi in the west transept; Resurrected Christ in the east transept

The parish maintain two small, historic cemeteries, Sacred Heart and St. Mary's, respectively. Both stand a few blocks north of the church, on opposite sides of the street.

The cemeteries were vandalized in the spring of 2015 when nearly all of the tombstones were overturned. Several limestone monuments, dating back to 1880, were broken in half. Thankfully, damage was minimal and most tombstone were repaired.
Dozens of toppled tombstones at St. Mary Cemetery - Source

Today, over 150 preschool thru 8th grade students are enrolled. Fr. Joseph Esper has been pastor for the last four years and is assisted by permanent deacon Ken Nowicki.

Pastors of Immaculate Conception & Dates of Service
Rev. Charles Anthony Chambille - October 1853 to 1859
Rev. Theophilus Buyse - 1859 to 1869
Rev. John F. Elsen - 1869 to 1973
Rev. Henry H. Meuffeles - 1873 to 1892
Rev. Henry DeGryse - 1892 to 1913
Rev. James S. Downey - 1913 to 1935
Rev. Victor Renaud - 1936 to 1938
Rev. John Koezler - 1938 to 1955
Rev. Harry Paul - 1955 to 1977
Rev. Daniel Bogus - 1977 to 1991
Rev. Phillip Briffa - 1991 to 1993
Rev. Zigismund Kowalczyk - 1993 to 1999
Rev. David Burgard - 1999 to 2008
Rev. Tomek Maka - 2008 to 2012
Rev. Joseph Esper - 2012 to present

For more info: parish website + bulletin archive + cemetery archive
Another blog post: Discovering Detroit Catholic Churches

Friday, August 05, 2016

Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima (Riverview)

Riverview's Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is home to Detroit's local of the World Apostolate of Fatima (a.k.a. Our Lady's Blue Army). The apostolate’s mission is to “help people learn, live and spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima in communion with the Church and in concert with the New Evangelization.” Their motto, Orbis Unus Orans, translates as One World Praying. Their logo also depicts two hallmarks of the group: a rosary and a scapular.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus shown near the main entrance.

They appear again in the sanctuary, on each side of the tabernacle.

While the chapel is a relatively new construction, the sanctuary is very traditional. There's no freestanding altar and all Masses are offered ad orientem. An altar rail is used for Holy Communion.

Two of the three children that witnessed Our Lady of Fatima, Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto, shown in an illuminated window.

A row of four stained-glass windows line one side of the chapel.

Two statues of St. Anthony of Padua, with the Child Jesus,  stand near the entrance to the chapel.

St. Michael the Archangel in front of the Passion of Christ; St. Joseph with the Child Jesus.

A large crucifix and Sorrowful Mother stand at the rear of the chapel.

Our Lady of Fatima, along with the three children, in the rear of the chapel.

Mass is at 7:00pm on First Fridays and 8:00am on First Saturdays. Confessions are heard 30 minutes before these Masses. Mass is also at 7:00pm on the 13th of each month, May–October, and the rosary is prayed before each Mass. 


Fr. John Hedges is Chaplain and Spiritual Director, as well as pastor of St. Stephen Parish in New Boston.


A men's prayer group meets on the second and fourth Saturdays, 9:00am10:30am. St. Joseph Bookstore is located next to the shrine and is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11:00am–4:00pm, as well as before and after all Masses.

Two depictions of the Blessed Virgin near the social hall.

In anticipation of next year's centennial of Our Lady of Fatima, the group will bring in visiting priests for Mass and lectures. On the centennial of the first apparition, May 13, there will be Mass at Old St. Mary's and procession through Greektown.

For more info: Fatima Shrine Detroit + World Apostolate of Fatima