Saturday, December 3, 2011

Our Lady of Refuge Orchard Lake

In November, we continued our journey to the Catholic Churches of the Archdiocese of Detroit with a visit to Our Lady of Refuge in Orchard Lake. Our Lady of Refuge was founded in 1940.

As you approach the church off Commerce Road you will see the unique design of a bell tower with 3 bells stacked one on top of the other.  The bells get larger as you look at them from top to bottom. Off to the side of the church is a beautiful garden that has an area for outdoor prayer and reflection. It is made of brick pavers with 2 large marble benches and a statue of Mary.

We entered the church through glass front door into a large gathering area. The thing that most stood out in this area was the large tapestries of Jesus and Mary. From the gathering area we entered into the church.

The church has an auditorium look and feel to it. You actually walk down the aisles to your pew. The pews surround the altar on 3 sides giving you an excellent view of the altar no matter where you sat.

There is a large statute of Jesus that hangs over the altar and looks out over the church. The statute is flanked on either sided by stained glass pictures in wooden frame boxes. The pictures represent Gabriel, the archangel, the life of Jesus and the fight against evil.

When we attended mass at Our Lady of Refuge, the church was mostly filled with young families. This was most evident when the pastor (Fr. Gerald McEnhill) invited the young people in the church to bring their contributions to the altar. Fr. McEnhill gave a concise and meaningful homily that really helped bring the weekly readings to life.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Our Lady of Refuge as well as to the City of Orchard Lake which we found to be a beautiful place. We especially enjoyed a short drive alongside the lake and the natural small town beauty of the area.

Up Next:  St. Anne’s-Warren

The bell tower at Our Lady of Refuge 

Prayer Garden at Our Lady of Refuge 

 Statue of Mary with baby Jesus

Our Lady of Refuge Church  

Tapestry of Jesus 

Mary, mother of Jesus 

Altar at Our Lady of Refuge 

 Stained Glass pictures at Our Lady of Refuge

Sunday, November 6, 2011

St. Francis Xavier-Ecorse

In October, our family journeyed to St. Francis Xavier parish in Ecorse. St Francis church was founded in 1858 and was named for St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India. He became a saint March 12, 1622 when he was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. He is considered to be the patron saint of Roman Catholic missionaries in foreign lands. His feast day is December 3rd.

When you approach the front of St. Francis Xavier, on Jefferson Avenue, you will see the bells of St Francis Xavier looming large over the church grounds. On the front lawn of the church is an old cross which is purported to be part of the original church that was built in 1858.

We entered the church through large wooden doors and were met by a friendly usher in a small vestibule area. The small rectangular area contained information about the church including pictures of some of the past priests and some beautiful artwork.

From the vestibule we entered the church. It appeared to be small but with a modern feel to it. There were 6 stained glass windows on either side of the church. Each of the stained glass windows depicted one of the 12 Apostles. The pews had a modern feel to them and were made of a light oak finish. They surrounded the altar in a circular motion.

The altar at St. Francis Xavier is made of brick and marble. To the right of the altar is a statute of the Mother Mary holding baby Jesus and to the left of the altar is a statute of St. Francis. There is wood and brass statute of Jesus on the cross mounted on a marble background that looks out over the altar and congregation.

The pastor at St. Francis Xavier is Fr. Jim Wieging. When we entered the church Fr. Wieging was sitting in his chair at the altar much like a Sheppard watching over his flock. He gave his homily while sitting on a stool at the altar rather than standing at the pulpit. The result was a homily that seemed more like someone giving a talk about a subject he was very dedicated to and knowledgeable about. His voice rose and fail as he made his points and emphasized different parts of his “talk”.

The congregation at St. Francis Xavier was mixture of seniors and young families along with a prominent Hispanic presence.  Our journey to St. Francis Xavier was an enjoyable occasion that will remain in our hearts and souls forever.

Up Next: Our Lady of Refuge-Orchard Lake
Entrance to St. Francis Xavier

 St. Francis Xavier

Church bells at St. Francis Xavier

Our visit to St. Francis Xavier in Ecorse

A statute of Mother Mary in the vestibule at St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier

Cross above the altar at St. Francis Xavier

Mother Mary with baby Jesus statue at St. Francis Xavier

In the vestibule at St. Francis Xavier

The old church cross on the front lawn of St. Francis Xavier

Saturday, October 1, 2011

St. Lawrence Parish-Utica

St. Lawrence Parish is currently located in the historic city of Utica, MI. which is located in Northern Macomb County. St. Lawrence began in 1866 as a mission of Sacred Heart by 40 Irish families of Utica Junction (present day Roseville). On August 15, 1874 Bishop CH Borgess dedicated St. Lawrence’s first church. The church was destroyed in 1904 when fire swept through Utica.

The present day Neo-Romanesque church was designed by Detroit architect Arthur DesRosters  and was erected in 1951. The brick outer façade transcends into the inter-sanctum of the church which is brick with a wooden beamed ceiling. At the altar is a large painting depicting Mary and Joseph at the cross of Jesus. It is framed in a Romanesque setting that overlooks the altar. On either side of the church there are 6 stained glass windows; together they represent the 12 Stations of the Cross.

St. Lawrence Church has a very open layout. When you enter the church there is a large gathering area that flows right into the church itself. In the church, the pews are wooden with cushioned seats and kneelers. They wrap around the altar on the front and on both sides so you can get a great view of the altar no matter where you sit. A statute of the churches patron saint, St. Lawrence sits off to the side of the church.

The pastor of St. Lawrence is Fr. Bob Fisher. The celebrant at the mass we attended was Associate Pastor Phillip Ching who was assisted by Deacon Anthony Morici. We found St. Lawrence to be a very warm and charming place to worship. It was a large church that had a small town feel to it. Some of the parishioners spoke to us as a Christian gesture that impressed us and made us feel welcome during our time at St. Lawrence.
Up Next: St. Francis Xavier-Ecorse
                                                     Some of the stained glass windows at St. Lawrence
Sign in front of St. Lawrence

                                             Statute of St. Joseph

                                              Statute of Mary

                                             The altar at St. Lawrence

                                                Church Bells at St. Lawrence

                                           Historical Marker describing St. Lawrence

                                           Plaque located on current church.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Discovering St. Mary's of Redford

St. Mary’s of Redford is located on the northwest side of Detroit in the neighborhood known as  Old Redford. You enter the church through the large double wooden doors that look out on to Grand River Avenue. The vestibule is small with 2 beautiful stained glass windows each depicting Mary. As this church is named for the mother of Jesus you will find many images of her throughout the church.

Past the vestibule and through another set of wooden doors is the main church. There is a main aisle, with pews on either side, which leads up to the beautiful and ornate alter. The alter is large with a main area for the priest, lecturer and others. High above the alter is a large wooden beam with a statute of Jesus on the cross with Mary and Joseph on either side of him. The ceiling over this scene is dark blue with gold stars which gives the impression of a beautiful night sky. The scene reminds you of what you might see in a snow globe.

St. Mary’s of Redford was established in 1843. The church has a plaque on the front of the building with the date of 1849 AD signifying when this church was built. Of course, there have been updates and improvements over the years but you can definitely feel the history of the church from the old wooden doors and the bell tower that sits high above the church façade to the beautiful wooden pews, the stained glass windows and beautiful art work that are prominent throughout the church.

On our visit to St. Mary’s of Redford, there were approximately 30-40 people in attendance at the 4PM mass. There was a mix of young and old, black and white, single and families. Everyone was very friendly. During the sign of peace; most everyone left their pews to move around and offer peace and blessings. We were pleasantly surprised by this sign of friendship and welcoming spirit by the people of St. Mary’s.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to St. Mary’s of Redford. We were impressed with the people as well as the history and beauty of the church.

Up Next: St. Lawrence-Utica

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Discovering the Churches of The Detroit Archdiocese-An Introduction

The Detroit Archdiocese was first established in 1833 as the diocese of Detroit. It was elevated to Archdiocese in 1937. Currently there are over 100 churches that help make up the Detroit Archdioceses. There is a unique and special quality about each of the churches that make up the Archdiocese of Detroit. They represent a blend of the history of the Detroit area and modern architecture design that makes each church worth exploring and discovering.

This year our family decided to begin its own journey of exploration and discovery of these fascinating and picturesque churches.  Once a month we will venture away from our home parish of Divine Child in Dearborn to visit the churches of the Detroit Archdiocese in order to explore and discover all they have to offer.

These are the stories of our family’s journey in words and pictures. Although each church collectively makes up the Detroit Archdiocese each one is as unique and diverse as the congregation that meets in them each week to listen and reflect on God’s words. We started our journey earlier this year. Here is a brief description of each of the churches we visited.

St. Scholastica-Detroit This was the first church we visited on our journey this past January. It is located on the west side of Detroit off Outer Drive.  The parish administrator was Fr. Timothy Babcock. We attended a Saturday afternoon mass which was held in a chapel at the back of the main church. Although, I’m not positive, I surmised that this was done in lieu of having to heat the entire church.  The chapel was beautiful with ample room for the 30 or so people that attended the mass. There was no music just one lady who led the congregation in the hymns and prayers. St. Scholastica was first established in 1928.

St. Michael-Livonia I remember my first visit to St. Michaels was just after the 9/11 attacks. The company I worked for was located down the street from the church and we were allowed to go to the church to pray for the victims during our lunch time. St. Michaels was established in 1931. On our recent visit we found the parishioners to be friendly and inviting. Fr. William Tindell was often humorous in his homily.

St. Joseph-Trenton  This is one of the oldest churches in the Detroit Archdiocese having been established in 1849. St. Joseph’s still retains quite a bit of its historical charm. The alter is surrounded on 3 sides which gives you a great view of it no matter where you sit. The day we visited Pope John Paul II was being beatified so there was special ceremony, led by Fr. Brad Forintos,  to mark the occasion which made our visit all the more special.

St. Matthews-Detroit Located on the east side of Detroit at Whittier and Harper, St. Matthews has preserved and remained a viable part of this community. Fr. Duane Novelly has worked hard to maintain the services necessary for the community and this church to survive. It hasn’t been easy though, Fr. Novelly told us of recent thefts at the church of copper piping and some brass fixtures. He asked the parishioners for their continued prayers as they continue to serve the area despite these setbacks. St. Matthews was established in 1927.

Divine Savior-Westland Divine Savior is nestled in a wooded area on the western edge of Westland. It is a beautiful church and the parishioners were very friendly. Fr. Alexander Kuras gave a brief but meaningful homily. Divine Savior was established in 1973.

St. Mary (Our Lady of the Snows)-Milford St. Mary in Milford was established in 1890. When we visited the church we were impressed with how the historical aspect of the church remained intact as some modern day enhancements added to the beauty and décor of the church. Fr. Ron Anderson is the presiding priest at St. Mary’s. His weekend assistant is Fr. Manny Chircop. Fr. Manny gave the homily at our visit.

These are the churches we visited so far. Future entries in this blog will have more detailed content as we continue our journey of exploring and discovering the churches of the Detroit Archdiocese.

Up Next: St. Mary of Redford-Detroit