October 29, 2012

Pastor of three Lapeer County parishes and a chapel “put it all in the Lord’s hands”

Ss. Peter and Paul Parishioners

Parishioners at SS. Peter and Paul in North Branch

Earlier this year, Rev. Richard L. Treml marked ten years of ministering to the faithful as pastor of two parishes and a chapel in North Branch, a rural community in the Archdiocese of Detroit’s northern reaches in Lapeer County. More recently, he became pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in nearby Brown City. “I know my parishioners and they know me,” said Father Treml of his growing flock. “They’re down to earth folks who support parish improvements when the needs are clear and there will be something to show for it.” That decade-long relationship between pastor and parishioners in the Catholic Churches of Northern Lapeer County helped the Changing Lives Together campaign to exceed archdiocesan expectations this year at SS. Peter and Paul and St. Mary Burnside parishes in North Branch as well as the nearby St. Patrick Chapel.

Fr. Treml with new parking lot

Father Treml with new parking lot paving underway at SS. Peter and Paul’s.

Nearly 200 parish households have pledged more than $401,000 to build a larger gathering and meeting space at SS. Peter and Paul as well as to repave the parking lot at the 106 year-old church. “We got the parking lot repaved over the summer and added about 30 spaces in the process” said Father Treml. St. Patrick Chapel received some roof repairs, and sound system improvements will follow as parishioner pledges are fulfilled.

Sunday Mass

Sunday Mass at St. Mary Burnside

When Sacred Heart Parish was added to Father Treml’s pastoral duties, the Archdiocese of Detroit assigned Rev. James Arwady to help as an associate pastor. “We used some of our contributions from our Changing Lives Together campaign to make the rectory at St. Mary Burnside livable for Father Arwady,” said Father Treml. “Thanks to the good Lord, the campaign and Father Arwady both came along at the right time,” he said. Father Arwady has a twin brother who is also a priest, Father Ray Arwady, who was ordained in 2009 and is serving as an associate pastor at St. Paul Parish in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Efforts continue through Changing Lives Together as a means of raising parishioner involvement and financial resources to meet the sacramental and ministerial needs of parishioners in the area. The local Knights of Columbus council put together a winetasting event in October that raised more than $900 for future improvements at SS. Peter and Paul.

More than 60 families have made nearly $88,000 in pledges for several upgrades at St. Mary Burnside, which is approaching its 160-year anniversary. “We’re replenishing parish savings used last year to install new church furnaces and for ceiling insulation,” explained Father Treml. “We want to make running water available at the parish cemetery, do some electrical work in the church, improve the artwork above the altar, install new sidewalks around the church, and improve the sound system,” he added. “We’ll tackle that work as pledges come in. We’re kept up our facilities pretty well and we want them to stay in good shape,” said Father Treml.

The CLT Team at

The Changing Lives Together leadership team at SS. Peter and Paul, St. Patrick Chapel, and St. Mary Burnside

Prayer and parishioner outreach were key parts of Changing Lives Together at the North Branch parishes. “People were willing to come forward and assist with all kinds of tasks,” observed a parish volunteer. “I was so humbled by the families I spoke with and their stories,” said another. “I loved being able to reach out to our parish and let our members know we are thinking of them and are here for them. What better place to know you are loved than at your own church?”

Clearly communicating the parish goals and progress in the context of continuing generations of parishioner commitment to their faith also made a difference. Father Treml included a stewardship prayer after every Sunday Mass to thank God for what he has given to parishioners and asking for them to discern how those gifts could bear fruit for the parish. “In my personal prayer, I lifted it up to God, put it all in the Lord’s hands, and said if you want this to happen, it will,” recalled Father Treml. “And it did.”

Updated November 2012

Changing Lives Together is a series of parish campaigns to generate resources to fulfill parish-developed plans and priorities. Learn more about the initiative in your parish.