Monday, November 27, 2017

St. Peter Parish (Mount Clemens)

Fr. Gabriel Richard established the mission of St. Felicitas in 1824, one of three he established that year, the first in Macomb County. A church was built two years later on the shores of L’Anse Creuse Bay. Fr. Richard was frustrated with the indifference of his people; he warned them to reform or the church in which they worshipped be swept away by the waters and the very land on which it stood be hidden from their sight.  Fr. Richard's prediction was fulfilled, when the waters of the Great Lakes went through a high-water cycle and flooded town of Belvedere in 1838. St. Felicitas was eventually submerged in 1856.

Fr. Richard also built a log chapel, “petite chapelle”, on the south bank of the Clinton River. The congregation quickly grew and more priests arrived. Among them were Fr. Stephen Bodin (the first priest ordained in the United States), Fr. Vincent Bodin, Fr. F. Boehm and Rev. Philip Janviers. Fr. Richard was elected to U.S. Congress in 1823 and Fr. Philip DeJean succeeded him at the mission. Fr. DeJean soon established another mission, St. Francis de Sales, on land donated by Ignatius Moross, in modern-day Harrison Township.

In 1839, Christian Clemens, the founder of Mount Clemens, plotted out a new section of the village.  o encourage the sale of lots in this district, Clemens donated land to several denominations and specified that the donations were to be used for religious purposes. A delegation of thirteen men approached Bishop Lefevere of the Diocese of Detroit and received permission to build a church on the land. The deed was finally registered on September 15, 1841, and St. Peter Church was established on New Street. Bishop Lefevere assigned the first resident pastor, Rev. J. Kenny, in 1843.
The first edifice of  St. Mary School and St. Peter Church.

Fr. Henry Van Renterghem was assigned pastor in 1846; he merged St. Francis de Sales and St. Peter into one parish and he also established a one-room school with one teacher. Fr. Van Renterghem died on November 20, 1869 and was the person buried in the parish cemetery four days later. Hundreds of parishioners and several pastors were later buried at the cemetery.

Fr. Camillus Maes was appointed successor and later became the third Bishop of Covington, Kentucky. A new school opened in 1870, staffed by three IHM Sisters, and was named St. Mary school because the IHM requested that it be named after the Blessed Mother. This school had two rooms: one for boys and one for girls.
An 1881 map of Mt. Clemens

In 1871, Fr. Maes was called to establish a new parish and was replaced by the Fr. Charles Ryckaert. The new pastor would eventually build a new rectory, larger school and a Gothic Revival church. The cornerstone of the new church was laid and blessed on July 4, 1882, and Bishop Borgess dedicated the new church on November 18, 1883.

Fr. Ryckaert began construction of a new convent but died in 1892, before the convent was finished. Fr. J.A. Van Hoomissen succeeded as pastor in May of that year and finished the construction projects.
The convent for Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

St. Joseph Sanitarium, pictured shortly after it opened

In 1895, the first graduating class of St. Mary High School consisted of seven girls. At the request of Fr. Van Hoomissen, Sisters of Charity came from Cincinnati to establish St. Joseph Sanitarium in 1899. Fr. Van Hoomissen passed away in 1902 and was replaced by Fr. Cornelius Kennedy. 

St. Mary students pose with an unidentified priest (likely Fr. Kennedy) in 1909
The elementary school was expanded and, in 1911, a new high school building was constructed. Fr. Kennedy passed away in 1912 and was succeeded by the Fr. John Ryan and later by Fr. Thomas Luby in 1918. Three years later, a statue of St. Joan of Arc was erected on New Street, behind the church, in memory of parishioners who served in World War I.

Fr. Dennis Hayes was installed as pastor in 1926 before he was reassigned to Marine City in 1934 and replaced by Fr. Alfred Heber. Fr. Leo Roberge arrived in 1942 but died two years later. Fr. Paul Heenan was appointed pastor in 1944 and remained at the parish for over two decades.
Exterior of St. Peter Church, pictured circa 1940.

On the morning of Wednesday, September 11, 1957, St. Peter Church was devastated by fire. The steeple collapsed and caused significant damage to the school. Firefighters from Mount Clemens, Harrison Township, Selfridge Air Force Base, Roseville, Chesterfield and Clinton Townships saved the other buildings. In less than an hour, the church fire was extinguished but the church was beyond repair.
The steeple of St. Peter collapses on September 11, 1957.

Fr. Heenan led the construction efforts for a new church, which was dedicated on December 20, 1960.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the current church. The cornerstone was blessed and settled.
Fr. Michael Koultuniak succeeded as pastor in 1966; the high school closed four years later because of a financial deficit. Fr. Vincent Welch soon arrived pastor; he built a new convent and converted the old one into parish offices. Fr. Welch was influential in starting Cardinal Mooney High School in 1977. The school was originally affiliated with St. Peter Parish though it was located behind St. Louis Church in Clinton Township. The school moved to Harrison township in 1983 and eventually to its current location in Marine City.

St. Peter Parish opened a Perpetual Adoration chapel in 1984. Fr. Welch died in October of 1987; Fr. Joseph Femminineo was named administrator and, subsequently, pastor. The parish had significant debt at the time and two buildings were beyond repair. IHM Sisters left the parish in 1988, after 118 years of service at St. Mary School. On July 5, 1989, the convent became the rectory and administration building.  Fr. Femminineo started to reduce the parish debt, renovated the Perpetual Adoration Chapel and tore down the old convent and rectory.

Fr. Michael N. Cooney arrived as pastor on August 1, 1990, and remains pastor today. After two years of negotiating, the parish purchased the former Alexander Macomb School from Mount Clemens Community Schools. The new St. Mary School was dedicated in September 2013.

The former St. Mary School was demolished this past July and a crew is still removing debris from the site.

St. Peter stands on Market Street, in front of the church and parish hall; the baptismal font stands in the rear of the nave.

A display case in the church vestibule exhibits artifacts from the parish's history: an altar card, a missal, prayer book, section of a window, door handles, a flourish of a spire, etc.

Stained-glass windows depicting the Baptism of the Lord in the former baptistery, now where the restrooms are located.

A depiction of Matthew 16:19 overlooks the choir loft.

The Keys of St. Peter at the foot of the altar; the 14th Station of the Cross

Stained-glass windows in the cry room depict Madonna and Child and Our Lord with a child.

A brass baldacchino covers the high altar; the words "holy, holy, holy" and symbols of the Eucharist adorn the facade.

The Infant of Prague and Sacred Heart of Jesus flank the sanctuary.

The traditional side altars to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, respectively.

St. Paul stands in the southeast (left) transept; St. Peter in the northwest (right) transept.

St. Joseph Sanitarium still stands today, half a mile north of church and next to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. It is registered Michigan Historic Site, the last remnant of the once many bath houses in Mount Clemens.

St. Peter Cemetery stands 1.5 miles north-northwest of the church.

A section of the cemetery is dedicated for deceased priests from the parish.

More info: parish website + school website
More about St. Joseph Sanitarium: Macomb Daily
More photos: AOD Film Services
St. Mary's School demolition: WXYZ + Macomb Daily

Friday, November 17, 2017

Our Lady of Sorrows (Farmington)

During the early 20th Century, Catholics living in Farmington had to make a ten-mile trek to the nearest church, St. Mary of Redford in northwest Detroit. Eventually, in September of 1927, Bishop Michael Gallagher appointed Fr. Edward O’Mahoney as founding pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. A narrow strip of land along Shiawassee Road, including a "big white house" on the corner of Power Road was purchased. This house served as the parish rectory for many years.
The first church and rectory
The first Mass was on Sunday, September 11, 1927, at the chapel of the former Sarah Fisher House, at 12 Mile and Inkster.

Men of the parish quickly began building a temporary, 125-seat church. The first Mass in the church was celebrated on November 6 of that year. A 1928 addition to the church doubled its capacity; Fr. James Callahan succeeded as pastor that same year.
The first Our Lady of Sorrows School
Fr. John Larkin was assigned as pastor in March of 1932. Mrs. C.F. Smith donated three acres of land to the parish and her son, Henry, built a three-room schoo and later expanded in 1940-1941. On October 26, 1943, Fr. Thomas Beahan became the fourth pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows and there were 500 registered families at the time.
The first convent that housed Adrian Dominican Sisters.

At the end of World War II, Charles D. Hannan was hired to oversee the expansion of church property. A new school, with a capacity of 400 students, opened in the fall of 1948. A gymnasium and temporary church, with a capacity of 750, soon followed.

The first Mass in the temporary church was Christmas Midnight Mass in 1948. Shortly afterwards, the first church was demolished to make room for the permanent edifice.

Construction of the current church began in November of 1959 and, that same year, Fr. Beahan received the title of Monsignor. A new rectory was opened in January, 1961 and the previous rectory was torn down soon after. Archbishop John Dearden dedicated the new church on March 25, 1961, the day before Palm Sunday.
French artist Jean Charlot painted this fresco behind the altar in the summer of 1961 - Source

Our Lady of Sorrows was originally bounded by Six Mile Road (S), 14 Mile Road (N), Beech Road (E), and Haggerty Road (W). As suburban sprawl continued in the mid-20th Century, eigt child parishes were formed. 
St. Agatha, St. Fabian, St. Colman, St. Priscilla, St. Alexander, St. Aidan, St. Gerald and St. Clare.

Msgr. Beahan retired in 1971 and was replaced by Msgr. Joseph Imesch. Two years later, Imesch became an Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit but continued his role as pastor for four more years. Father Kean D. Cronin was appointed pastor on June 28, 1977. He continued in that role for more than two decades before he was replaced by Msgr. Walter A. Hurley in 1990. 

During the 1990s, Our Lady of Sorrows grew from 2,600 to 3,100 families and enrollment increased at the school. There were 965 students in the 2000-2001 academic year.

Hurley was eventually ordained an Auxiliary Bishop on August 12, 2003. Fr. John West was soon installed at the eighth pastor and maintained that role until his sudden death from a heart attack on April 14, 2005. Fr. Mark Brauer became the ninth pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows on August 27, 2005, and remains in the position today.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus stands at the back of the nave.

A painting of Our Lady of Sorrows in the parish hall; banners depicting previous pastors around the parking lot in honor of the 90th anniiversary.


As one of the larger parishes in the archdiocese, Our Lady of Sorrows is staffed by three priests and two permanent deacons, there is Mass at least once, if not twice, every weekday and there are five Sunday Masses.

For more info: parish website