Sunday, December 31, 2017

St. Joseph Church (St. Vincent Pallotti Parish, Wyandotte)

Most of the early immigrants to Wyandotte were of Irish descent. However, German-Americans began to move in the 1860s. Men from the St. Boniface Society, a Catholic-German fraternal organization, petitioned Bishop Borgess to establish a German-American parish in Wyandotte. Bishop Borgess granted their request in 1870 and established St. Joseph Parish. However, the bishop warned that he would not assign a priest until the congregation built a church and rectory.

The congregation pooled their resources — money, building supplies, skilled labor — to build a church and rectory on the southeast corner of 4th and Elm Streets. A brick church was built at a cost of $8,000 and included a tall steeple and an attached rectory.

Construction was completed the following year and Fr. Leonard Unterreiner arrived as the first pastor. St. Joseph Church was dedicated on November 5, 1871. For fifteen years, 1873-1888, one priest staffed both St. Joseph and nearby St. PatrickFor several years during the 1890s, the parish was served by several Capuchin priests. Fr. Jerome Hieronymous, a Capuchin, raised the funds to build a school which was then dedicated in the early 1890s.

The school was built on the south side of Elm Street. The Sisters of St. Agnes of Ford du Lac, WI were the first teachers, followed a few years later by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, who remained with the school for many years. Originally, classes were taught in both English and German.

The first rectory burned down in 1881 and was replaced by another rectory, further away from the church. When the church first opened, it heated by only one potbelly stove. The church relied and natural light and candlelight before it was wired for electricity in 1905. In 1916, lightning caused a fire in the original spire of the church, which ruined it and resulted in considerable water damage to the interior of the church. A much smaller square cupola replaced the spire. Another rectory, measuring 6,500 square feet, was built in 1918 at a cost of $15,000.

Construction of a larger school  began in 1939, less than a block south of the church. Classes were soon held in the unfinished school but World War II delayed its completion in 1949.

By the early 1950s, St. Joseph Church needed many repairs and the congregation had outgrown it. Fr. Albert George ordered it torn down in 1951 and Masses were held in the gymnasium of the school. The arrival of Fr. Walter Hennes in 1954 prompted a capital campaign to construct a new church. The first step was the purchase of the Arbeiter Hall, a German blue-collar workers’ assembly hall. This is the land on which this church now stands across the street from the first church. Ground was broken on the new edifice in 1958 and they new church was dedicated in May, 1960.

In 1961, Fr. Joseph Bohr became pastor and led the parish through the years of Vatican II until he was replaced by Msgr. John Weier in 1978. Cardinal Szoka assigned Pallottine Fathers to St. Joseph Parish in 1990, under the direction of Fr. Gerry Frawley. The Pallottines had been in Wyandotte since the 1950s but ministered at other parishes. Fr. Michael Cremin, SAC, was assigned as pastor in 2004 and remains there today.

St. Joseph School merged with St. Patrick School and St. Elizabeth School to form Wyandotte Catholic Consolidated Elementary School before it closed in 2011. The school building is still used for religious education classes.

In 2010, St. Joseph clustered with St. Patrick (est. 1857) and St. Elizabeth (est. 1924).  The final Mass at St. Elizabeth was on June 30, 2012.  At the time of the closure, there were 75-100 families at St. Elizabeth.
Bishop Francis Reiss celebrated the closing Mass at St. Elizabeth.
Fr. Cremin stood next to him, at his right side. - Source

The two remaining parishes merged in 2013 to form St. Vincent Pallotti Parish, patron of the Irish Pallotine priests who minister to the parish. A statue of the patron stands in a niche near the back of the church.

The old rectory was torn down in 2015 because of high maintenance and health concerns. Below are street view images from 2013 and 2017, respectively.

St. Alphonsus Liguori on the facade of a side entrance. A statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary was transferred from the shuttered St. Elizabeth Church and currently stands inside a niche.

Two sets of tall, narrow windows flank the tabernacle. St. Michael the Archangel is depicted on the right side. Madonna and Child are shown on the top left while a family is depicted in the bottom left.

Symbols of the sacraments surround the crucifix and tabernacle.

Side altars to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, respectively.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua on the back wall.

Clusters of steel, conical chandeliers illuminate the nave. 

The front facade shows four depictions of St. Joseph. The largest and highest shows St. Joseph holding two doves (the Presentation at the temple) and his flowering staff. The other three images show, from left, the Flight into Egypt, the Nativity of Our Lord, and Christ Child at work with St. Joseph. 

More about the parish:
More photos by AOD Film Services: St. Elizabeth St. Joseph

Articles by The News Herald:  three-parish cluster St. Elizabeth closes

More about the Irish Pallottines:
Articles from The Michigan Catholic: October 2011 + March 2016

Thursday, December 28, 2017

St. Patrick Church (St. Vincent Pallotti Parish, Wyandotte)

A large influx of laborers moved to Wyandotte during the mid-19th Century. In 1854, Bishop Frederick Rèsè, the first Bishop of Detroit, assigned Fr. Charles Louis DePreiter, pastor of St. Francis Xavier in Ecorse, to start a mission in Wyandotte. Fr. DePreiter ministered at the mission for three years before it received the status of a parish. St. Charles Borromeo, the namesake of the pastor, was established in 1857. Eber Ward, founder of Eureka Iron Works, donated land for a frame, wooden church.

The neighboring parish of St. Joseph was established in 1870 less than half a mile awayThe cornerstone of the current church was laid on July 26, 1873, though it took a decade to finish. During this time, St. Charles went through a succession of six pastors within the next fifteen years.

Many parishes at the time were divided by ethnicity and language so St. Joseph became home to German-Americans and St. Charles Borromeo Parish, with many Irish-Americans, was renamed to St. Patrick Parish in 1886. Another parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, was established in 1899 and became home to many Polish-Americans.

Wyandotte in 1896

Construction began on a new St. Patrick School in 1906 and, in 1915, a vestibule was added to the church. In 1916, the first class of high school graduates numbered three males and one female.
The interior of St. Patrick Church in the 1910s.

The high altar, made from white marble, was added in the 1920's.

The church's organ was installed in 1929 and later received two full restorations.

A parishioner, Raymond Paquette, painted the apse in 1949. 

A new convent was built in 1955 at a cost of $225,000 (likely adjusted for inflation). The high school closed in 1968 and was demolished in the 1980's to make room for parish offices and a child care center.

While the parish no longer has parochial schools, it does support Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview and John Paul II Elementary School in Lincoln Park.

Most of the stained-glass in the windows was replaced because the cost of repair was prohibitive. However, the top, triangular portion of each window was salvaged and reused.

More renovations were completed in the early 2000's. Large portions of the flooring were replaced with travertine tile; a local carpenter created a custom celebrant's chair and lectern. A new baptismal font was custom built by a New York firm.

In 2010, St. Patrick was clustered with St. Joseph and St. Elizabeth (est. 1924). Three years later, they merged to form the new parish of St. Vincent Pallotti. The parish is named after of the founder of the Society of Catholic Apostolate, also called Pallottines, which is the community that ministers to the parish. St. Patrick and St. Joseph remained open but St. Elizabeth Church soon closed. At the time of the merger, there were 425 families at St. Patrick and dozen of those families could trace their lineage to beginning of the parish.

The convent was demolished in 2015 and, that same year, St. Patrick Church was forced to temporarily close. Earlier this year, crews replaced the roof, added insulation, plastered to the ceiling, refurbished frescoes, and resurfaced the floor.

St. Patrick Church recently reopened for the Third Sunday of Advent and has resumed the normal schedule.

St. Patrick Church has Mass at 8:30am on Mondays, Noon on Wednesdays, and 9:30am on Sundays.

The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth of Hungary on the left side.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Vincent Pallotti on the right side.


A confessional stands at the edge of the sanctuary, next to a baptismal font and Paschal candle.

St. Patrick Church is built in a Gothic Revival style with many pointed arches. The frames of the Stations of the Cross have Gothic-style spires.

A large crucifix hangs on the west wall, in between the 12th & 13th Stations of the Cross.

Four large saint statues are suspended at the back of the nave: St. Patrick, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Joseph.

Symbols of Christ are painted on the ceiling, above the center aisle.

A few of the ceiling frescoes, including St. Gregory and St. Agnes


A small, circular window is in the top of each transept. The window in the west transept has a clover in the middle while the east window shows a fleur-de-lis.

Windows above one of the exterior doors.

A window in the narthex shows a European sailor and a Native American; one of several lightpieces in the narthex.

A hallway between the church and former school houses memorabilia and trophies from the parish schools.

The hallways also displays two sets of windows. One set displays the history of the parsh's buildings. 

Another set of windows displays the faith and work of the parish, pictured in liturgy, education, etc.

St. Vincent Pallotti Parish has nearly reached its $1.2 million campaign to restore both St. Patrick and St. Joseph Churches.


More about the parish:
More photos by AOD Film Services: St. Patrick St. Elizabeth 

Articles by The News Herald:  155th anniversary + parish cluster

More about the Irish Pallottines:

Articles from The Michigan CatholicOctober 2011 + March 2016