Time certainly does not stand still, and change is really one of the few constants in our lives. So much has happened since my last entry, it is difficult to find a starting point with which to begin.
St. Colman / St. Fabian Cluster
The prospects for St. Colman returning to being an independent parish were not good considering the its small size and the acute shortage of priests. The prospects of a sustainable long-term cluster arrangement with St. Fabian was tenuous at best because of the demands on the pastor / administrator in running two parishes, one of which included a school. A financial situation within St. Colman raised concerns with some, but I and others were confident that it could be resolved. In the end, what could not be resolved was the lack of priests and the inability of the Archdiocese of Detroit to assign St. Colman a new pastor. So with the interest in the long-term pastoral care of the parishioners of St. Colman in mind, the decision was made to close St. Colman and merge into St. Fabian. On November 11, 2012 I made the announcement at the conclusion of the 11:00 am Mass.
Fr. Norbert Kendzierski Social Hall
On December 2, 2012, as a gesture of unity following the announcement of the merger, and because Fr. Norbert had been pastor at St. Fabian before moving to St. Colman, St. Fabian name and rededicated its social hall in memory of Fr. Norbert.
St. Colman Closing Mass
On February 3, 2013, at 11:00 a.m, with the Most Reverend Bishop Jose Arturo Cepeda presiding, Fr. Jeffrey Day and Fr. Craig Geira concelebrating, and Deacon Jene Baughman assisting, St. Colman parishioners celebrated their Closing Mass. While there were several parts of the Mass that were emotional, several moments moistened the eyes of even the most hard-hearted. First was after Communion when the altar was stripped and the Sanctuary Lamp was extinguished after all of the Eucharist was consumed, signaling that the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, was no long with us. Second was during the Rite of Leave Taking, during which the sacramental books, Holy Oils, and Holy Water were ceremoniously removed and parishioners were invited to kiss the altar upon leaving one last time. The final step, and most heat-wrenching was when Bishop Cepeda sealed the doors of the church with a purple sash while declaring St. Colman closed.
St. Fabian Unity Mass
Today, on the day when Fr. Norbert would have celebrated his 75th birthday, many of us from St. Colman joined with parishioners of St. Fabian and celebrated a Unity Mass, signifying the merger of the two parishes. The Mass began with several members of both parishes processing in with their respective sacramental books and bowls of Holy Water. Additional St. Colman parishioners processed in with the Holy Oils from St. Colman. The Holy Water and Holy Oils from the two parishes were combined. The old sacramental books of both parishes will be replaced with a new set of books for the new St. Fabian.
Members from both parishes participated throughout the celebration of the Mass, including the Readings, the Setting of the Altar, the Presentation of the Gifts, and as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
Future of the former St. Colman
There is still a great deal of work to be done with the former St. Colman. The Archdiocese of Detroit is in negotiations with a potential buyer. If the sale is finalized, it would mean the property would continue to be used as a church. Even so, there is the matter of making certain all sacred items are handled properly, either being moved and used at St. Fabian or within another parish in the area. I will post updates as the transition team completes its work.
On a Personal Note
As my bio had noted, I had taken some time off of my studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. I knew my workload last January (2012) was going to make it impossible to meet class obligations. I also was still dealing with the questions of, did I want to be come a deacon in response to being called by God, or did I want to become a deacon because I wanted to. As such, I did not finish submitting my application for Diaconate Formation last year.
Following a change in jobs last summer, I applied to and was accepted into the MBA program at the University of Detroit Mercy. In mid-December as I was about to register for Winter semester classes, Juanita unexpectedly asked me if I really wanted to return to school for the MBA. I said I did. She then asked me if that was really where my heart was. After a brief pause I said honestly, it was not. Funny thing is, she already knew it. I said I really wanted to return to the Seminary because something inside of me was drawing me in that direction. With a loving smile and supportive hug, Juanita said I should follow my heart. So with that, I am following my heart, which I believe with more certainty, is responding to a calling by God. Juanita and I completed and submitted the application for Diaconate Formation, and I have resumed taking classes at Sacred Heart. I will post more frequently on this restarted journey.