Tuesday, November 17, 2015

St. Vincent Ferrer-Madison Heights

St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church is located in the south Oakland County suburb of Madison Heights. It is a neighborhood church where many of the parishioners can enjoy a leisurely walk to church from nearby homes. The patron saint of St. Vincent Ferrer, was born in Valencia, Spain in 1350 and died April 5, 1419. He was canonized by Calixtus III at the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome, on June 3, 1455. He is the patron saint of builders because of his reputation for "building up" and strengthening the Church through his preaching, missionary work and in his teachings, as confessor and adviser.

The grounds of St. Vincent Ferrer are nicely kept and give a sense of optimism to the area. Once inside the church, there are no pews instead there are 5 rows of individual seating that inter-connects with kneelers in front of them. The altar is small and made of light oak. The crucifix hangs just in back of the altar with bouquets of white carnations on either side. The church has a, sort of, modern feel to it; with the chair seating, burgundy carpet and even a leather Queen Anne chair where the priest sits.

Fr. John Esper is the pastor at St. Vincent Ferrer. He is a long time pastor of the Detroit Archdiocese; previously serving at St. Lucy’s in St. Clair Shores and St. John Neumann in Canton. At the mass we attended visiting priest Jack Conley gave the homily in which he shared personal stories and humorous anecdotes to relate the word of God and spread the gospel of the Lord.

The parishioners at St. Vincent Ferrer are a generous and faithful group of people. There was a large turnout at the mass we attended. Everyone was very friendly and they all seemed to enjoy each other’s company and in sharing their faith with others.

We enjoyed our visit to St. Vincent Ferrer. It was a kind and welcoming place and we felt right at home.

Up Next: St. Perpetua-Waterford

St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church

Exterior view of St. Vincent Ferrer

Entrance to church

Statute of St. Mary on grounds of church

Crucifix at St. Vincent Ferrer

Priest seating on Altar

Joseph with baby Jesus

Prayer area 

Altar at St. Vincent Ferrer

Mary with Baby Jesus

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Our Lady Queen of Heaven-Detroit

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church is located near Outer Drive and Van Dyke in the mostly African-American community in North East Detroit. The church was founded in 1929 and, at that time, served a mostly Polish community. A school that is now closed is still attached to the church.

When you walk into the church you first enter a small gathering area. This area leads into the church with 2 rows of pews on either side of the center aisle. The main altar is large and made of marble with a white cloth covering it. A large crucifix hangs over the altar with a green cloth background. The lectern and priest seating area are made of matching oak. The church is also filled with various statues including, the usual, Joseph and Mary with Baby Jesus. Over the years the neighborhood surrounding Our Lady Queen of Heaven has declined and crime in the area has become a major concern however this church continues to shine like a beacon and the Parishioners and staff do a great job of maintaining the beauty and elegance of the church and the surrounding grounds.

Fr. Michael Nkachukwu was recently appointed the new pastor at Our Lady Queen of Heaven and the mass we attended was his first mass at his new church. In his homily, Fr. Mike reflected on the day’s readings and told those in attendance that we should shout Jesus name and always give him praise and reverence. The mass was sparsely attended with a mix of the neighborhood faithful and few that continue to come to Our Lady Queen of Heaven from the nearby suburbs.

As with most inner-city churches, the people in attendance were very open, warm and friendly and they welcomed us with open arms. We were very happy to join them in celebrating mass and we enjoyed our visit very much.

Up Next: St. Vincent Ferrer-Madison Heights

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church

Statute of Mary over entrance to Church

Main entrance to church

Statute of Mary on the grounds of OLQH

OLQH main altar

Side view of altar with priest seating and lectern

Statute of Jesus sits in the corner--ever watching!

St. Joseph

Crucifix that hangs over altar

Queen Mary with Baby Jesus

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Immaculate Conception-Ira Township

Our journey to the Catholic Churches of the Detroit Archdiocese recently took us to Ira Township in northern Macomb County to visit and attend mass at historic Immaculate Conception Church.

Immaculate Conception traces its roots back to the 1850’s when the Bishop of the Detroit diocese, Reverend Peter Lefevere determined it was time to assign a permanent priest to the area. That priest was Fr. Charles Anthony Chambille who became the first priest at Immaculate Conception in the fall of 1853. In 1917 the church along with the rectory, school and sister’s home were completely destroyed in a fire. However under the leadership of Fr. James Downey the church and school were rebuilt within a years’ time. While a new school was built in 1959 the church remains an integral part of this small, close knit community.

Once inside Immaculate Conception you can see and feel the history of the church. The main aisle leads up to the altar with 2 rows of pews that sit atop old wooden plank floors that have been painted over. The altar is white marble with a depiction of the last supper carved into the front of it. A hand carved sanctuary with a crucifix hangs over the altar and life size statutes of Joseph and Mary sit on either side of the altar.

The current pastor at Immaculate Conception is Fr. Joe Esper.  Fr. Joe is the 15th priest to serve Immaculate Conception since it was founded by Fr. Chamille over 150 years ago. In his homily, Fr. Esper talked about the importance of living our faith and putting God and family first especially in light of current events happening in the world today.

Visiting the historic catholic churches such as this one really gives us a feeling of going back in time and seeing what going to church was like 50…100…150 years ago. It is nice to see and feel the history of the Catholic Church of the Detroit Archdiocese in these beautifully designed gems and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Immaculate Conception in Ira Township.

Up Next: Our Lady Queen of Heaven-Detroit

Mass Schedule for IC church

Immaculate Conception in Ira Township

Entrance to church

Statute of Mary sits atop the church facade

Grotto built in 1953 (100 year anniversary)

front of grotto

Plaque in front of grotto dedicated to pioneers of church

Joseph statute

Mary with Baby Jesus

Altar at Immaculate Conception

Sanctuary at Immaculate Conception

One of the stained glass windows at Immaculate Conception

Monday, August 17, 2015

St. Ambrose-Grosse Pointe Park

St. Ambrose is tucked just inside the Grosse Pointe Park border next to Detroit. It serves the people of both cities. St. Ambrose was built around 1926. It has a beautiful brick exterior and an old fashioned courtyard that reminded me of the old churches of the eastside such as St. Rose near Kercheval and St. Jean.

The patron saint of St. Ambrose was born around 340 AD. He is considered one of the four original doctors of the church. His feast day is December 7 and he is the patron saint of Milan. He is also considered to be a patron saint of beekeepers, candle makers and domestic animals among others.

There are several entrances that will take you into the church. Once inside the church the front pews are seated at about a 45 degree angle around the altar. Behind the front pews there are 2 rows of pews that complete the seating area. The altar area has marble floors with the main altar and lectern made of solid maple wood. A crucifix hangs from the ceiling over the altar and stain glass windows surround the altar.

The priest at St. Ambrose is Fr. Timothy Pelc. In his homily, Fr. Tim spoke about the shepherds of Christ and how we, as the shepherds, should only follow the one true leader in Jesus Christ.

The people of St. Ambrose are a diverse group of young, old, singles and families who come together to worship as one community. They also reflect the diversity of the area with some coming from the Detroit side and others coming from Grosse Pointe Park. They are truly God’s shepherds who come to seek God’s blessings and to live their lives following in the ways of the Lord. Our trip to St. Ambrose was filled with happiness and kindness and we felt blessed to be part of their church and to worship with the people of St. Ambrose.

Up Next: Immaculate Conception-Ira Township
St. Ambrose Catholic Church 

Front of St. Ambrose

St. Ambrose steeple

One of the entrances to St. Ambrose

Courtyard at St. Ambrose

Jesus on the cross at St. Ambrose

Statute of St. Ambrose

Stain glass window at St. Ambrose

Crucifix over the altar

Portrait of Jesus

Altar at St. Ambrose

Saturday, July 18, 2015

St. John the Baptist-Monroe

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in downtown Monroe is an historic church that was originally founded in the 1870’s to serve the Irish community at that time.  Although fire destroyed the original church the exterior walls survived and were used to rebuild the church in 1892. The church was rebuilt to replicate the original church except the steeple which was rebuilt in 1991 as part of a massive restoration effort. The original architectural design is a testament to the glory and honor of this notable church.

We entered St. John the Baptist from the main entrance off Monroe St. through large wooden doors that lead into a small vestibule area then straight into the church. A burgundy carpet separates 2 rows of wooden pews and leads directly to the altar. The altar and lectern are made of an off white marble. Over the altar is a large bronze statue of Jesus on a cross with his hands outstretched to the sky. The back of the altar has a round stained glass window that shows Jesus baptizing John. Large statutes of Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus on either side complete the look of the altar.

The pastor at St. John the Baptist is Fr. Jim Smalarz. The homily at the mass we attended was given by Deacon Michael Stewart. He talked about the great faith that people have in spite of great tragedy and how we can all share in the glory and blessing of God’s undying love for all of us.  Deacon Stewart did a good job of relating his own personal experience of meeting people in the poor coal mining communities of Kentucky who dealt with immense poverty with a strong will to succeed and by putting their faith in God.

We enjoyed exploring the history of St. John the Baptist and worshipping where so many others have worshipped throughout the decades and centuries. We also loved walking along the garden areas on the churches grounds and experiencing their peace and serenity. The feeling of God’s love and presence in this church was amazing and very uplifting as was our visit.

Up Next: St. Ambrose-Grosse Pointe Park

St. John the Baptist Church in Monroe

Wood doors that lead into the church

Historic Marker at St. John the Baptist church

Front of Church exterior

St. John the Baptist looms over Monroe St.

One of the gardens at St. John the Baptist

Joseph and baby Jesus

Lectern with altar in background

The Altar

Seating for the priest and deacon

Statute of Jesus hangs over the altar.