Friday, July 14, 2017

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish (St. Joseph Church, Dearborn)


St. Joseph Parish began on December 13, 1942, as a mission outreach of Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn. Because it was during World War II, and resources were diverted to the military, the congregation rented a store at the corner of Greenfield and Rotunda. Msgr. Sharpe immediately began as administrator and eventually bought ten acres of land for the present church. He left the parish in 1952 and was replaced by Fr. Gerard Brennan who, in turn, celebrated the first Mass in the church on July 19, 1953.

The church was officially dedicated by Cardinal Mooney on September 9th of that year and built at a cost of $130,500 ($1.17 million after inflation). Fr. Brennan was also a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary until Cardinal Dearden relieved him of that office in 1963 and appointed him full-time pastor of St. Joseph.

Fr. Brennan remained at St. Joseph Parish until his retirement in 1990 and a total of 38 years leading the parish. He was replaced by Fr. Adolph Redwick who, in turn, led the parish until his untimely death in March of 2006. Cardinal Maida soon appointed Fr. Terrence Kerner as pastor of both St. Joseph and nearby St. Martha (est. 1954). 
The former St. Martha Church - image source

In 2013, the two parishes merged to form St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish after the namesake's canonization the previous year. The former St. Martha Church was sold to (now former) Oakwood Hospital and the new parish kept the proceeds.

Pews from St. Martha and altar from St. Joseph were given to St. Thomas Aquinas in Detroit. Many other artifacts were moved from St. Martha to St. Kateri including a 3,800 lb. altar, baptismal font, windows, and all other sacred items.

Stained-glass windows, made in Germany during the 1880s, were restored and reinstalled in what is now likely to be their third home in the parish hall.

Fr. Kerner remains pastor today and is assisted by Fr. Gary Morelli, a weekend associate. Fr. Morelli is also chaplain at nearby Oakwood Hospital. Saturday Vigil Mass is at 4:00pm preceded by Reconciliation at 3:00pm. Sunday Masses are at 9:00am and 11:00am. Tuesdays bring Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Noon-6:30pm, followed by Mass at 6:40pm. Daily Mass is also at 9:00am on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

For more info: parish website bulletin archive
For more photos: AOD Film Services