Detroit, Archdiocese of
DETROIT, ARCHDIOCESE OF
The Archdiocese of Detroit is a metropolitan see comprised of six counties of southeastern Michigan: Lapeer, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne (3901 square miles), with a total population of more than 4,260,000, predominantly of English, German, Polish, Irish, and African-American extraction, including about 1,430,000 Catholics (34 percent). In 2001 they were served by 485 diocesan priests and 294 religious order priests, 146 permanent deacons, 130 brothers, and 1,900 sisters, in 308 parishes and 4 missions, with 34 Catholic high schools and 134 Catholic grade schools.
The diocese was established on March 8, 1833; the archdiocese, on Aug. 3, 1937. Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Marquette, and Saginaw dioceses in Michigan are suffragans of Detroit.
Catholicism in Michigan began in the northern area of the state due to pressures from the Iroquois confederation which kept both Native Americans and missionaries from the southeastern part of the lower peninsula. The first known priest in the Detroit area was Fr. François Dollier who was accompanied by Deacon René de Galine (1670). A stable ecclesial settlement, however, had to await the founding of a French fort at Detroit in 1701 and its parish of Ste. Anne. The entire area was turned over to the British in 1763. Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore added the area to his diocese in 1796 when the British left. Carroll sent two former Sulpicians, Michael leva doux and gabriel richard to pasture the Catholics in the present area of Michigan and Wisconsin. Richard proved to be a heroic leader of the community, helping it recover from the devastating fire of 1805, representing the Territory of Michigan in Congress, and dying ministering to cholera victims in 1832.
The first bishop of Detroit, Frederic Résé (1833–1871), arrived with high hopes but eventually was forced to retire to Europe in 1840 due to a series of conflicts. His coadjutor bishop, Peter Paul Lefevere (1841–1868) never actually became the bishop of Detroit, dying prior to Résé. Lefevere brought order and discipline to the diocese and helped it recover from his predecessor's misdeeds. Wisconsin was taken from the diocese in 1843 and the upper peninsula was also removed from Lefevere's jurisdiction in 1853. Caspar Henry Borgess served as coadjutor from 1870 to Résé's death and then as ordinary until his own retirement in 1887. In 1882 a large portion of the western half of the state was removed from Detroit to form the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
John Samuel Foley (1833–1918), a close friend of Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and an Americanist, was ordained the third bishop of Detroit in 1888. His ineptness as a leader in his early years and poor health in the latter ones left the diocese without strong leadership for many years. This was more than alleviated by his successor, Michael Gallagher (1866–1937), who began an energetic term in 1918. He built many diocesan buildings, recruited clergy, centralized offices, and tightened the administration. The greatest memory of Gallagher, however, is his tolerance of the Rev. Charles Coughlin, the "Radio Priest." Gallagher steadfastly refused to silence the man and it is this that most likely explains the Vatican's decision not to raise Detroit to archepiscopal status in Gallagher's lifetime.
Archdiocese. When Edward F. mooney, Bishop of Rochester, N.Y., was installed as successor to Gallagher on Aug. 3, 1937, Detroit was made an archdiocese with the suffragan sees of Grand Rapids, Marquette, and the newly established Diocese of Lansing. In early 1938, 16 counties in the Saginaw Bay area and in the northeastern section of the state were assigned to a newly formed diocese with Saginaw as the see city. In the same year Blessed Sacrament Church was named the cathedral of Detroit.
Mooney. The new archbishop faced serious financial problems resulting from the Depression and the heavy archdiocesan debt incurred during the extensive building program of the 1920s. Within a few years Mooney refinanced the debt, and with the institution of the yearly Archdiocesan Development Fund he was able to embark on programs such as the building of St. John's Provincial Seminary; the erection of Boysville, the Catholic Youth Organization Home for Boys; the purchase of a Catholic Charities building; the extensive program of Catholic Family Centers and other social welfare services; Kundig Center and Carmel Hall for the aging; and Our Lady of Providence School for retarded girls. Parish planning was facilitated by the purchase of more than 100 sites for future development. The fund also made possible summer camps, community centers, convents for home-visiting and catechizing sisters. The Gabriel Richard Building in downtown Detroit was purchased to house additional diocesan offices.
When Mooney was appointed to Detroit, the great automotive unions were just beginning. He organized study and training centers to impart the social message of the Church, fostered the work of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, and initiated the Archdiocesan Labor Institute to sponsor management-labor forums and discussion meetings on the Church's social doctrine. He also united the many lay groups of women into the Detroit Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.
On Feb. 21, 1946, Pius XII conferred on Mooney the honor of cardinal priest. During World War II, the population of the archdiocese had expanded; with peacetime prosperity there was a great exodus to the suburbs of Detroit leaving the "inner city" to underprivileged and minority groups. Missionary efforts were expended to reach the people left in the older parishes of the city, while new parishes sprang up throughout the archdiocese, especially in the environs of Detroit. Educational facilities kept pace. The Mercy Sisters opened Mercy College in 1941 and the Felician Sisters, Madonna College, Livonia, in 1947. The number of Catholic elementary and high schools more than doubled, making the Detroit parochial school system the second largest in Michigan. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine provides instruction to over 100,000 Catholic children in public schools, through 1,500 sisters and 1,800 laymen and women teaching in 381 centers; in addition it operates summer religious vacation schools and special classes for the deaf.
During the 20 years of Mooney's administration, the Marianhill Mission Society, Irish Pallottine Fathers, Missionaries of SS. Peter and Paul, and the Bernardine Sisters established headquarters in the archdiocese; the Jesuits erected a Detroit province. Two diocesan sister-hoods were founded: the Catholic Mission Sisters of St. Francis Xavier, for work in Japan and India; and the Home Visitors of Mary, for work among converts and lapsed Catholics, especially African Americans. Besides, there was the rich influx of religious to staff parishes, to teach in parochial and central schools, to engage in social service, catechetics, and the home missionary apostolate. Four new hospitals were built: The Mercy Sisters erected Mt. Carmel Mercy in Detroit and Mercy Hospital in Port Huron, the Sisters of St. Francis built Holy Cross, and the Sisters of St. Joseph established St. John Hospital in Detroit. When Cardinal Mooney died on Oct. 25, 1958, Detroit ranked seventh among all the dioceses in the U.S.
Dearden. John Francis dearden, who had been bishop of Pittsburgh, Pa., was transferred to Detroit on Dec. 18, 1958, and installed there Jan. 29, 1959. Dearden retired on July 15, 1980, and died on Aug. 1, 1988. Under Dearden, the Cardinal Mooney Latin School (closed in 1970) was built on the campus of Sacred Heart Seminary to provide additional accommodations for high school students preparing for the diocesan priesthood. Day school programs for retarded children were doubled and the St. Louis School for retarded boys was built. Facilities for the aging were increased by the erection of a 25-unit building for low income pensioners. A student exchange program with Latin America was accelerated and further emphasis was placed on religious and social welfare services for the migrant laborers in southeastern Michigan. In the fall of 1960, the Archbishop's Committee on Human Relations was organized with priests and laymen to disseminate the Church's teaching on interracial relations. Within two years the Felician Sisters had opened St. Mary's Hospital in Livonia.
During the course of Vatican Council II, Dearden adopted a change in administrative style, becoming much more open and tolerant of diverging views and new ideas. He sought to bring this same openness to the diocese by emphasizing adult education. This was epitomized in the Archdiocesan Synod of 1969, which included a grass-roots process of 250,000 responses and was exhortatory rather than prescriptive, and the national Call to Action (1976) gathering in Detroit which celebrated the American Bicentennial. Dearden restructured the archdiocese into subunits called vicariates, urging greater dialogue and collaboration in the Church. After the 1967 race riots in Detroit, Dearden promoted racial harmony. He was created a cardinal on April 18, 1969.
Dearden was well-loved by many in the archdiocese, but his tolerance of creativity led to some liturgical and pastoral abuses. These were addressed by his successor, Edmund Szoka (b. Sept. 14, 1927, Grand Rapids, Mi.). Szoka was ordained the first bishop of Gaylord on July 20, 1971 by Archbishop Luigi Raimondi. On March 28, 1981, after meeting with the Holy Father to discuss the needs of the Church of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Szoka was announced as the new archbishop. His decade of service saw a great deal of controversy: the closing of the Poletown parish (process begun by Cardinal Dearden) and then 31 other parishes in 1989; restructuring of the Tribunal; handling the personnel issues of Fr. Anthony Kosnik and Sr. Mary Agnes Mansour; banning the use of General Absolution; establishing a local Catholic television station; mounting a major Vocations campaign, "We invite, God calls;" hosting Pope John Paul II's visit (Sept. 18–19, 1987); closing St. John's Provincial Seminary and opening a theological seminary at Sacred Heart Seminary in 1988; completing major renovation projects of the Chancery buildings and the seminary; substantially raising the annual income of the Catholic Services Appeal (begun in 1982); and making a statement about racial integration when he sponsored Mayor Coleman Young's membership in the all-white Detroit Boat Club (1985). On June 28, 1988, he was elevated to the cardinalate. When Pope John Paul II named him president of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See in April, 1990, he resigned his see.
His successor, Adam Maida, was born in East Vandergrift, Pa., March 18, 1931. Ordained the bishop of Green Bay on Jan.15, 1984, he was transferred to Detroit on April 28, 1990. He was created a cardinal on Nov. 26, 1994. He established the St. John's Family and Youth Retreat Center at the former provincial theologate.
The archdiocese is fiscally very solvent due to the actions taken by Cardinals Szoka and Maida. Cardinal Maida's diocesan endowment campaign raised over $100 million. In addition, both men brought greater order and discipline to the diocese. As the diocese faced problems stemming a priest shortage and an aging clergy, they furthered programs for the formation of lay ecclesial ministers.
The auxiliary bishops of Detroit have been: Edward Kelly, ordained a bishop on Jan. 26, 1911, and transferred to Grand Rapids on Jan. 16, 1919; Joseph Casimir Plagens, ordained a bishop on Sept. 30, 1924, and transferred to Marquette on Nov. 16, 1935; Stephen Woznicki, ordained a bishop on Jan. 24, 1938, and transferred to Saginaw on March 28, 1950; Allen Babcock, ordained a bishop on March 25, 1947, and transferred to Grand Rapids on March 23, 1954; Alexander Zaleski, ordained a bishop on May 23, 1950, and transferred to Lansing on Oct. 7, 1964; Henry Donnelly, ordained a bishop on Oct. 26, 1954; John Donovan, ordained a bishop on Oct. 26, 1954, and transferred to Toledo on Feb. 25, 1967; Joseph Breitenbeck, ordained a bishop on Dec. 20, 1965, and transferred to Grand Rapids on Oct. 6, 1969; Thomas Gumbleton and Walter Schoenherr, both ordained bishops on May 1, 1968; Arthur Krawczak, ordained bishop on April 3, 1973, and transferred to Joliet on June 30, 1979; Moses Anderson, ordained a bishop on Jan. 27, 1983; Patrick Cooney, ordained a bishop on Jan. 27, 1983, and transferred to Gaylord on Nov. 6, 1989; Dale Melczek, ordained a bishop on Jan. 27, 1983, and transferred to Gary, Aug. 19, 1992, as administrator and later as ordinary; Bernard Harrington, ordained a bishop on Jan. 6, 1994, and transferred to Winona on Nov. 6, 1998; Kevin Britt, ordained a bishop on Jan. 6, 1994; John Nienstedt, ordained a bishop on July 9, 1996, and transferred to New Ulm on June 12, 2001; Allen Vigneron, ordained a bishop on July 9, 1996; and Leonard Blair, ordained a bishop on Aug. 24, 1998.
Bibliography: g. b. catlin, The Story of Detroit (Detroit 1926). j. k. jamison, By Cross and Anchor: The Story of Frederic Baraga (Paterson 1946). p. l. johnson, Stuffed Saddlebags: The Life of Martin Kundig, Priest (Milwaukee 1942). g. w. parÉ, The Catholic Church in Detroit, 1701–1888 (Detroit 1951). f. b. woodford and a. hyma, Gabriel Richard: Frontier Ambassador (Detroit 1958). s. ager, "Through the Eye of a Needle [:Archbishop Edmund Szoka]." Detroit 10–25. e. boyea, "Father Kolasinski and the Church of Detroit." Catholic Historical Review 74:420–39. l. tentler, Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit (Detroit 1990). r. f. trisco, The Holy See and the Nascent Church in the Middle Western United States, 1826–1850 (Rome 1962). j. wylie, Poletown: Community Betrayed (Urbana 1989).
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