Rorate Caeli

What does the future hold for Traditional Catholics in Detroit?

Palm Sunday 2008 in Assumption Grotto, Detroit. Source. 

Last week, Diane Korzeniewski of the Te Deum laudamus blog posted a lengthy report (45 Fewer Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit) on the plans of the Archdiocese of Detroit to "restructure" its 267 parishes into a much smaller contingent. Among the parishes threatened with possible closure are Assumption Grotto (the only church in the whole archdiocese with a daily TLM) and St. Josaphat (one of the three other churches in the archdiocese aside from Assumption Grotto that have a weekly TLM fulfilling the Sunday obligation). The following is Korzeniewski's take on the possible impact of the parish changes on Detroit's Traditional Catholic community:

Long Term Impact on Traditional Catholics in Detroit?  
One of the things I have been concerned with all along is that there is no provision to ensure that the Archdiocese of Detroit has a long-term plan for Catholics attracted to the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). There is interest among some seminarians and I believe Archbishop Vigneron will work to address this. In the future, it could mean more opportunities in the suburbs to experience the TLM. One of the challenges though, is allowing people to follow the full calendar, rather than having just a weekly or monthly chance to worship in this way, if they are partial to it.

Assumption Grotto is the only parish in the Archdiocese which offers the Traditional Latin Mass 364 days yearly, the exception being Good Friday. However, even Good Friday's Tre Ore service uses the 1962 Missal. The parish coming in second is St. Josaphat, which is about a 10-15 minute drive from Grotto. It offers many of the same things using the 1962 as does Grotto, with the main exception being that they don't have a daily TLM. There is Mass on Monday evenings and on special feasts during the week, as well as the Triduum, if I recall. It was clustered years ago with St. Joseph and the Sweetest Heart of Mary. I am quite concerned as to what this means for them. The cluster of three has shared one priest, and their plan reads as follows:

Sweetest Heart of Mary (personal parish), St. Josaphat (personal parish), and St. Joseph. In early 2012, these already clustered parishes are to develop a plan to merge, to be submitted to the Regional Moderator no later than December 30, 2012. This plan may result in the elimination of buildings and will include consolidation of Mass schedules to conform to the archdiocesan policy of following canon law for a priest to say no more than three Masses on a regular Sunday or holy day of obligation.

All three of those church buildings are absolute gems. It would break my heart to see any of those buildings closed.

The main concern I have about the Traditional Latin Mass communities in Detroit is that I do not feel we are recognized as a component of "diversity" that has something to offer the wider community. When one thinks of diversity, it often limited to race and ethnicity; it does not include, for example, traditional Catholics. This is not something unique in the Archdiocese of Detroit, but a common thread in many dioceses. I think dioceses need to be continuously encouraged to allow those of us with a love for the usus antiquior a place where we can worship in a way that lifts our hearts to God in a deep and profound way, and in a setting proper to the form.

The AoD's plan, unfortunately, has the potential to eliminate this opportunity for traditional Catholics in the coming years. Where they were careful to ensure that, for example, certain ethnic groups, such as the Polish, Italian, Croatian, and others had some kind of provision, there has not been a similar protection for traditional Catholics. There is the potential for certain unintended consequences should such a void develop in this archdiocese years down the road. I don't know if these things have been considered or not. I hope to discuss them personally, at the very least, with my auxiliary bishop, to raise awareness.


  1. BrianK8:24 PM

    Michael Voris also attends Assumption Grotto. Hmmm.

  2. I wish my diocese had this problem.

    There are only SSPX Masses every Sunday and a diocesan Mass in the middle of nowhere 100 miles from the capital.

  3. Andrew9:43 PM

    The article mentions seminarians and their interest in the TLM. Depending on the diocese, seminarians must be very careful in expressing any interest in the TLM. In my experience an interest in the TLM is often met with great suspicion and could be seen as a "formation issue". In one diocese I know of, the bishop essentially said that any seminarian who is interested in the TLM does NOT have a call to the priesthood in his diocese. Seminarians, please be careful.

  4. With @TeDeumBlog, I hope that good things develop for the four parish communities discussed in her post.

    While it does not speak specifically to the ecclesiastical and economical policies that seem to threaten these parishes, there are certain examples of increasing vibrancy in TLM life in southeast Michigan.

    One I am deeply involved in promoting is the monthly Mass & Dinner events in Detroit organized by UVAAY. Taking advantage of the weeknight sung TLMs at St. Josaphat and St. Joseph, we regularly expose two dozen or more young adults to the beauties of the Traditional Latin Mass on a monthly basis.
    (Pictures: October, November (in AA), December, January (in AA), February).

    if you know any young adults (18-35) who are not closed to the Traditional Mass, please pass along the invitation to this event.
    Young Adult Mass & Dinner
    Feast of St. Joseph
    Orchestral Traditional Latin Mass
    Monday, March 19th - 6:00 p.m.
    St. Joseph, Detroit. Dinner to follow.

    In the near term, we are organizing a Juventutem chapter for this area.

  5. Petrus Radii10:12 PM

    There is a story that the Archdiocese of Detroit *finally* permitted the Traditional Latin Mass because the then-Cardinal-Archbishop received a visit from a couple of the Boss's men, who explained the penalty for failing to provide the Mass of All Time to the Faithful. That penalty had something to do with cement overshoes and a walk on the bottom of the Detroit River.

    Maybe the Mafia needs to visit Abp. Vigneron, too, in order to "explain matters" to him. ;-)

  6. Good Idea10:41 PM

    Don't forget the SSPX in Livonia!

    St. Anne's Church
    38100 Five Mile Road
    Sunday 7:30am & 10:00am (High Mass)
    Saturday 11:00am
    1st Friday 7:00pm

  7. I This is the quote from the present bishop of the AoD.

    "Only half of the people who claim to be Catholic have registered in their parishes. Of those half, only 30% come to Mass every Sunday. So, that is 15%, of the people who are members of the Catholic Church are attending church according to what we understand to be a baseline of participation. That's having an impact on our lives."

    II This is the sliver in the pew.

    1963 Cardenal Deardon gave the largest population of Catholic educated children the confirmation slap followed shortly on by shock and awe as the largest generation was drop kicked out of the Latin Tridentine Liturgy into V II vision .

    1976 I was told while substitute teaching at my own Catholic high school that a parish had just finished building an addition for a high school but could not open the school since the major percent of parish funds were sent for noneducational Catholic social programs in the non Catholic outreach programs for AoD .

    1983 my family left the area to be able to practice the Catholic Faith with the Latin Mass and attend a school that taught the Baltimore Catechism.

    My parents both attended the Assumption Grotto School and then went to Marygrove College and University of Notre Dame. My son is a senior at ND now and the Latin Mass has been said there every Sunday on Campus at Alumni Chapel for the last four years.

    Christ said ”Going therefore teach....”

    I am sorry to hear about all the losses.


  8. charliem1:28 AM

    The TLM was allowed over extremely strong opposition from the priests of the Diocese. Those in leadership had for years treated petitions for the TLM with contempt.
    It was clearly an ultimatum, delivered to the then-Bishop on his ad lumina visit to the Vatican, that resulted in allowing the Mass at St. St. Josaphat. Assumption followed, where Fr. Perrone ahd his priests had been saying the NO Mass in Latin, ad orientem, for years.
    Both of those parishes, btw, are located inside the Detroit city limits, where many suburbanites fear to tread.
    The chancery gang is no doubt scouting out the worst possible location for an occasional TLM to be permitted.

  9. Tramtrist1:50 AM

    I'd like to know as much as possible about how this will shake out. I was married at Sweetest Heart in 2010 (Link) in the Extraordinary Form and attend Mass at St. Josaphat as often as possible (We live 30 minutes away). I have met some very nice people from St. Joseph as well.

    This is a good problem to have in that there are no less than 12 churches which offer the EF in that region but I can't imagine one of the 3 clustered parishes closing. It would break my heart.

    What other information is out there about what is going to happen??

  10. Gratias6:49 AM

    So they close down 45 parishes and persecute the sole parish offering daily Latin Mass. The American Bishops' disobedience to Pope Benedict XVI knows no limits. Shame on the lot of you!

    We are on the right side of this fight for The Catholic Church. The Vatican should take note of the abuse we are constantly subjected to. Capisce Cardinale Bertone?

  11. Says a lot about the bishop. Back-door the Traditional communities by elminating their churches. One maybe, but three, no, not a coincidence. I have a hunch if we took a closer look at the parishes being closed none of them are the ugly food-court ones.


  12. "Only half of the people who claim to be Catholic have registered in their parishes. Of those half, only 30% come to Mass every Sunday. So, that is 15%, of the people who are members of the Catholic Church are attending church according to what we understand to be a baseline of participation. That's having an impact on our lives."

    One part of the Archbishop's math doesn't hold up, at least in my experience. He assumes that people who are not registered in parishes are not going to Mass, which may not be true. I've actually known plenty of Catholics who attended Mass regularly but did not register in a parish because they were unable or unwilling to assume the obligation of giving money to the church each week. I'm sure that this could be the case for some in an economically-depressed area like metro Detroit.

    I'm not saying that there are huge numbers of unregistered Massgoers in Detroit, but I'm sure that there are some. Even in my experience living elsewhere, pastors will periodically 'rattle the pews' (from the pulpit or otherwise) to remind regular Massgoers who aren't registered to sign up. Given processes like the one going on in Detroit, it makes sense that pastors would want to have as many people as possible on the books.

  13. Tramtrist3:05 AM

    According to the list found in the article Here the Archbishop celebrated the EF in Oakland California prior to coming to our diocese. The fact that we have no less than 12 sites regularly celebrating the rite leads me to believe he is not out for blood.

    Of course it could all be a ruse and there could be a secret plan to destroy our clustered parish community but I'm a bit more practical. I believe there is simple math behind the decision. I say that having absolutely no evidence to back it up as I do not know the financial state of our parish. If you looked around the neighborhood though I think you would understand pretty quickly that a thriving Catholic population within walking distance of our 3 churches fled downtown Detroit a long time ago... It's very sad but I have faith in the archbishop and believe he will make the right decision.

    I hope we can "merge" the parish and keep attending Mass in the 3 buildings during regular times.

  14. Tramtrist3:10 AM

    By the way that was not meant to be a racist remark when describing the Catholic community... If you drive around the sites of those parishes it looks more like a picture of Iraq after the US invasion than a thriving US metropolis. Drive down Mack road in either direction and you won't feel like you're in a place you would want to go for a nice walk

  15. The Archbishop seemed one who is easily peer-pressed, and from what I gather he was just tolerant of Tradition in Oakland as he is now in Detroit too (if not less so now).
    An update on the situation: None of the Parishes in question have closed but some strange business has gone down at St. Josaphat concerning the Tridentine Mass there.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!